Premier League has ‘no plans’ to pause season as English Covid cases rise

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The Premier League has announced it has “no plans” to pause the season and “continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled”.

Wednesday night’s match between Tottenham and Fulham was postponed after a coronavirus outbreak at the west London club.

The Cottagers returned a number of positive test results on Tuesday and, after more came in on Wednesday, the Premier League decided to call the match off less than three hours before the scheduled 6pm kick-off.

It becomes the third top-flight game to be wiped out by the virus, following Newcastle’s match with Aston Villa earlier this month and Monday’s game between Everton and Manchester City.

Despite some calls – including from new West Brom manager Sam Allardyce – for a “circuit-breaker” in fixtures to help tackle the fast-developing situation across the country, the competition will continue as planned.

A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League has not discussed pausing the season and has no plans to do so.

“The League continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled, and these protocols continue to have the full backing of government.

“With the health of players and staff the priority, the League is also fully supportive of how clubs are implementing the protocols and rules.”

It is understood Spurs are unhappy about the decision and the timing of it. There had been speculation throughout the day that the game might be called off and manager Jose Mourinho indicated his frustration in an Instagram post shortly after 2pm.

Mourinho posted a video on his account of his staff waiting for news with a message which read: “We still don’t know if we play. Best league in the world.”

The video was filmed at 2.02pm – something the Portuguese made clear by showing the time in the corner of a TV screen in the room.

The Premier League said the postponement followed a board meeting after Fulham had lodged a request to rearrange the fixture “following a significant rise in positive Covid-19 cases, as well as a number of players showing symptoms (on Wednesday)”.

After consulting medical advisors, the decision to postpone the game was “taken as a precaution and with the health of players and staff as the priority”.

Fulham said the players and staff who tested positive have been self-isolating “in line with UK Government and Premier League guidance”, with the group set to be retested.

The Premier League had announced on Tuesday there had been a season-high 18 positive tests in the latest round of testing across the clubs.

Fulham confirmed the postponement followed “a number of the club’s players and first-team staff returning positive results from the most recent Covid-19 tests this week”.

It added: “This decision follows discussions with the Premier League and advice from Public Health England.

“Those players and staff who tested positive have been self-isolating in line with UK government and Premier League guidance.

“We wish the players and staff who tested positive a safe and speedy recovery.”

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