The Covid-19 pandemic rages on, with the Omicron variant leading to spikes all over the United Kingdom as the countdown towards the festive period begins.
A number of Premier League games have already been called off due to outbreaks within clubs – so what are the new rules regarding Covid-19 and will there be more postponements?
Which 2021-22 Premier League games have been postponed because of Covid-19?
Tottenham’s fixture against Brentford, originally due to be played on December 12, was the first Premier League game to have been postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
Manchester United’s clash with Brentford was also postponed a few days later after the club confirmed that several first-team staff and players tested positive for the virus, leading to first-team operations at training ground Carrington to be ceased.
Burnley’s game against Watford on Wednesday, December 15, was called off hours before kick-off, due to a Covid outbreak in the Hornets squad.
A day later and Spurs were still unable to fulfil their top-flight commitments, with a trip to Leicester being cancelled as a result.
Manchester United’s home clash with Brighton, that was due to be played on December 18, became another postponed due to “a number of players and support staff having to isolate”, with top-flight fixtures involving Southampton, Brentford, Watford, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich that were due to take place on the same day having to be shelved.
Almost two hours before the game was scheduled to kick off, it was announced that the clash between Aston Villa and Burnley would not go ahead “due to an increased amount of positive Covid-19 test results” in the home side’s playing squad.
On December 19, Everton and Leicester City were unable to complete their proposed fixture at Goodison Park.
Outbreaks continued in the build up to Christmas, with Leeds having to postpone their trip to Liverpool to Boxing Day while Watford were unable to take on Wolves.
|Date of original fixture||Match||Competition|
|December 12, 2021||Brighton vs Tottenham||Premier League|
|December 14, 2021||Brentford vs Man Utd||Premier League|
|December 15, 2021||Burnley vs Watford||Premier League|
|December 16, 2021||Leicester vs Tottenham||Premier League|
|December 18, 2021||Man Utd vs Brighton||Premier League|
|December 18, 2021||Southampton vs Brentford||Premier League|
|December 18, 2021||Watford vs Crystal Palace||Premier League|
|December 18, 2021||West Ham vs Norwich||Premier League|
|December 18, 2021||Aston Villa vs Burnley||Premier League|
|December 19, 2021||Everton vs Leicester||Premier League|
|December 26, 2021||Liverpool vs Leeds||Premier League|
|December 26, 2021||Wolves vs Watford||Premier League|
Which Premier League clubs have had positive cases?
In addition to Tottenham and Man Utd, Leicester have also recorded positive cases, with several players unable to travel to Italy for their final Europa League group game against Napoli.
Graham Potter has stated that there were “three or four” positive cases at Brighton, while Norwich coach Dean Smith said he had one player who was in isolation and there has been an outbreak at Brentford.
Chelsea have also been hit hard, with Mateo Kovacic joined by three first-team colleagues at Stamford Bridge in posting postive test results.
Liverpool saw the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Thiago ruled out of their plans as a result of Covid tests, while positive results at Leeds and Watford left them short on numbers.
What are the Premier League rules on cancellation due to Covid-19?
The Premier League handbook itself states that they can “only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances”.
They state that they will make decisions on a case-by-case basis for each club, and there are no set rules that will determine whether or not a fixture will get cancelled.
However, following the cancellation of Brentford vs Man Utd, the Premier League stated that they will take new “emergency measures” to combat the further spread of Covid-19, with the league’s players and staff now having to take a lateral flow test every day in order to access training grounds.
In addition to the daily tests to get into training grounds, players and staff are to now take a PCR test at least twice a week.
It is expected that additional measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing will continue to be enforced.
The Premier League has said in a statement: “The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and COVID-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs.
“It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with.
“With the health and wellbeing of all players and staff the priority, and in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures.
“These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time.”
What is the Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom?
The week of December 6 to December 12 yielded the highest number of positive tests in the Premier League this season, a confirmed 42 compared to the previous week’s 12. It is also the highest number of positive tests recorded since Project Restart in 2019-20.
The spike in positive cases come at a time when the United Kingdom has been facing yet another Covid-19 outbreak with the new Omicron variant.
The Premier League confirmed that as of October, 69 per cent of players had been fully vaccinated, with 81 per cent having received their first dose.
But concerns remain with those who choose to stay unvaccinated, while booster jabs continue to be implemented in the country for those eligible.
For fans attending matches in England, they will have to produce proof of double vaccination or a negative test to go to events with crowds that exceed 10,000 people.