Several matches in English football have been postponed in recent days due to COVID-19 and the situation is not expected to improve until Christmas; Clubs are pressing to suspend the tournament until the end of the year
a Premier League It is about to enter its busiest period of the season, with 40 matches – plus the Premier League Cup quarter-finals – to be played in the span of 17 days from Saturday (17). But the resumption of COVID-19 threatens to wreak havoc on the agenda.
This Thursday, the Manchester United vs Brighton match, scheduled for this weekend, was The fifth match in the Premier League will be postponed in six days Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 that infected the crew of one of the participating teams, Leicester City x Tottenham (Thursday), Burnley x Watford (Wednesday), Brighton x Tottenham (Sunday) and Brentford x Manchester United (Tuesday) It was also canceled due to several positive test results.
At a news conference on Thursday, Brentford coach Thomas Frank – who confirmed his club had recorded 13 positive cases in the latest round of testing – The Premier League has been asked to postpone this weekend’s roundHe said: “Cases of the emerging coronavirus are rising in all Premier League clubs, and everyone is dealing with it and facing problems.”
sources said ESPN who – which Several clubs are even pushing for the tournament to be suspended until the end of the year.Given the increasing number of cases.
The problems caused by coronavirus in football in the UK are a reflection of society, with the country recording 78,610 cases on Wednesday (15) – The highest number since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The Premier League this week introduced emergency measures in a bid to reduce the risk of an outbreak in clubs and ensure matches can continue uninterrupted.
But football faces a turbulent period in the coming weeks. How will the Premier League remain safe in the latest COVID-19 progression?
What is the situation at the moment?
I mentioned the English Premier League 42 positive cases of COVID-19 among players and officials of its 20 clubs between December 6 and 12 – Highest weekly total since testing began in May 2020. After outbreaks in Tottenham, Manchester United, Watford and Brentford this week, the number of positives is expected to set a record when the league releases the numbers at the end of this round of testing.
the Tottenham vs Rennes postponed in favor of the Europa League, on 9 December due to 13 positive tests, soon followed Tottenham’s Premier League match against Brighton on 12 December, and it was canceled. The domino effect is evident, as the Brentford-United and Burnley-Watford match have also been called off due to COVID-19.
However, Tottenham’s Premier League trip to face Leicester on Thursday was postponed hours before kick-off after Leicester reported nine positive cases on Wednesday, with Spurs still dealing with the effects of the outbreak, leading to 15 positive results between players and officials. .
Premier League rules state that matches must be played if at least 14 players are fit and available, although this rule is subject to interpretation depending on the age and experience of the players considered fit to play.
Will there be a temporary suspension of matches?
This is a rapidly developing situation, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that the country faces a “wave of infections” due to the Omicron variant, sources said. ESPN What does The Premier League will be driven, mainly, by government advice and instructions.. But so far, the league is not planning to boycott the table, opting instead to judge each match on a case-by-case basis.
The opinion within the Premier League is that there is still enough space on the calendar for matches to be rescheduled, and the hope is that the postponed matches can be played as soon as possible. Although league sources say May 22 is a “difficult date” in terms of the calendar, the absence of a major tournament at the end of next season is due to the change of season. world Cup In Qatar, which runs from November 21 to December 18, there is scope for an extension of the season, if necessary.
Clubs have requested that the tournament be halted entirely. And while looking at this request, it’s clear that some are already having issues with timing. Tottenham are expected to reschedule their matches against Brighton and Leicester, as well as their clash with Burnley, which was canceled last month due to snow. They are also still trying to find a date to play against Rennes in the Europa League, a situation made more complicated with France announcing that it would close its border with the United Kingdom on Saturday due to COVID-19.
What are the Premier League and its clubs doing to prevent an outbreak?
The English Premier League announced on December 13 that Emergency measures will be implemented In an effort to reduce cross-infection within the clubs. This means that players and staff must undergo rapid tests per day and two PCR tests per week. Any positive result on the rapid test must be followed by PCR.
In addition, a PCR test is expected on match day, which sources say will be an increasing factor in terms of last-minute games being called off, such as Burnley v Watford.
In training centers and stadiums, masks must be worn while inside the facility, social distancing measures are being reintroduced, and treatment time is limited. The ‘red zones’ – areas of the training ground and stadiums for players and staff – have been reintroduced and clubs have been directed to resume remote press conferences after journalists were recently allowed back into training centres.
With the community not being directed to meet the lockdown by the government, Premier League does not insist clubs create ‘safety bubbles’ For players and staff, however, clubs have been advised to promote the benefits of a booster dose to all staff as the best defense against COVID-19.
Are players encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The players’ vaccination status is not fully known, and no data has been released since the Premier League revealed in October that 68% of players had been fully vaccinated and 81% had received their first dose. sources said ESPN The move organized in the league since October to encourage vaccination has led to a Increase the number of vaccinated playersHowever, some continue to play and train without being vaccinated.
Top coaches like Pep Guardiola, from Manchesterand Jürgen Klopp LiverpoolIt has asked for players to be vaccinated, but the Premier League is not asking for it, opting instead to refer to government advice and messages.
What is the procedure for delaying games, and why are they played so close to the start of games?
Norwich manager Dean Smith claimed earlier this week that clubs need “guidance” on rules and regulations related to COVID-19-related delays, but Premier League sources said ESPN That all clubs voted on the protocols contained in Article 17 of the PL Rules and therefore there should be no confusion. However, it is an ambiguous procedure. In theory, matches should be played if clubs have 14 physically strong players, but if some are untested youngsters from the club’s academy, this is open to interpretation.
The club must contact the Premier League and several factors are taken into account, including the pattern of players available, whether the training center is closed and whether the outbreak is manageable. The safety of players and staff – from both teams – is the key factor in deciding whether to postpone. The broadcast aspect is not a concern, given the postponement of matches that were supposed to be broadcast this week.
However, there have been criticisms of the lack of prior notice for this week’s Brentford-Burnley match. It was announced that Brentford’s match against Manchester United on Tuesday (14) had been postponed around midnight on Monday (13), while the Burnley match against Watford was canceled less than three hours before the match started.
sources said ESPN That games are canceled once positive test results are confirmed and that, as the public has discovered during the pandemic, those results can be delivered at any time of the day.
And what about the fans? Will matches be played again without fans in England?
In terms of non-delightful games, that would be a government affair, and There are no plans to close stadiums at this time.. As such, the Premier League is complying with government restrictions for Plan B, which means that all stadiums with a capacity of more than 10,000 people – which includes all Premier League stadiums – must adopt a ‘passport’ system for COVID-19 vaccination or provide Negative rapid test within 48 hours of play.
The sources said it was impractical for clubs to check the status of every fan. Therefore, the Premier League requires clubs to carry out spot checks of at least 20% of spectators. This is due to the traffic jams caused by large numbers of fans entering the stadium 10 to 15 minutes before the start of the match and the inability to check every one without delaying the start or causing congestion at the turnstiles.
It is not necessary for fans to wear masks in the stadium.
So what happens now? Will the English Premier League come out of this crisis without interruption?
This is the question that no one can answer now. Medical and scientific advisers working for the UK government have warned that an estimated 200,000 cases of Covid-19 are contracting each day in the week leading up to Christmas, with Dr Jenny Harris, chief executive of the UK’s Health Security Agency, saying on Wednesday that the numbers in will be The coming days are “scary”.
This is where football operates now, and so it would be naive to expect the Premier League to be immune to the problems facing society. There will likely be more delays and in the coming days – the question is whether this number is manageable or whether it will be an issue that needs more drastic action.
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