Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish claims the Premier League has ‘a very high vaccination rate for the age group of players’ – but refuses to blame the un-jabbed stars for the postponement of NINE top-flight games
- Several Premier League clubs are undergoing coronavirus crises in their squads
- Nine top-flight games have been called off this month due to Omicron outbreaks
- The Premier League has refused to unveil how many of its players are vaccinated
- The EFL reported that four in 10 players are not double-jabbed with the vaccine
- Steve Parish has refused to blame the unvaccinated for the postponements
- The Crystal Palace chairman claims the league has a high vaccination rate
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has claimed the Premier League has a high vaccination rate of players – but insists England’s un-jabbed footballers are not to blame for this week’s postponements.
Nine top-flight matches have been called off this month due to the spike in Omicron cases that has affected life in the UK, including half of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Several managers, including Brentford boss Thomas Frank, have called for a temporary pause to Premier League football so clubs can get the virus under control, with reports claiming top-flight shareholders are set of a meeting on Monday to discuss this.
The Premier League has, meanwhile, remained silent on the number of players who are vaccinated – but the EFL announced on Thursday that four in 10 players are still not double-jabbed.
However, Palace chief Parish has claimed that the majority Premier League players are fully-jabbed but has refused to place the blame for the many postponements on those who have abstained from the two vaccinations.
Steve Parish has refused to blame the Premier League’s unvaccinated players for this week’s postponed matches
Nine matches have been called off this month – including Manchester United’s clash with Brighton due for Saturday – due to Omicron outbreaks at clubs
‘We would like all players to be vaccinated,’ Parish told BBC Breakfast on Friday. ‘I’m vaccinated, my kids are vaccinated. We obviously think it’s the right thing to do for individuals and in society to get us back to normality.
‘Players are no different to people in society in that age group – some people have their own views and concerns. We have a very high vaccination rate – I think – in the Premier League for the age group that players are compared to rest of society.
‘But there are players who have concerns – medical issues which mean they can’t get vaccinated in the same way, or just individual or family concerns. We have to work through those and do our best.
Parish says the Premier League has a high vaccination rate among players at the moment
‘But I don’t think all of those postponements are due to unvaccinated players. While it’s generally thankfully a very mild disease in players, there are still vaccinated people that can still contract it and cause a postponement.
‘We would like all the players vaccinated but I don’t think it’s at the heart of the postponement.’
Manchester United have seen their last two matches against Brentford and Brighton called off after an outbreak at their club, with Ralf Rangnick’s side having just seven available players for the latter clash, which was due to take place on Saturday.
Leicester’s clash against Tottenham due for Thursday night was called off hours before-kick off following requests from both clubs, while Frank’s Brentford reported 13 positive coronavirus cases among their players and staff on the same day.
Ralf Rangnick’s United had just seven available players for this weekend’s match with Brighton
Despite calls for a ‘firebreaker’ period of football which would see the Premier League temporarily stop, Parish has announced Palace – who are not experiencing an Omicron outbreak at the moment – is against the idea of stopping.
‘We haven’t had the level of postponements to get a real pause,’ he added. ‘We would rather get the games over with that we can, while we still can. I would be against that (a firebreaker) right now but we’ll see how things develop.’
‘Rules are put in place to fill the squad. There are many reason you can and can’t fill the squad. We are all aware of the situation that is going on, we need to keep our players safe from catching Covid. Obviously it’s unfortunate, we’ve had situations with very key players out and have had to play. It’s the same with injuries.
‘It’s always difficult when you lose players when you’re playing important games. But we need to get to get through as many fixtures as we can. And if teams have got a reasonable players to field, then we try and carry on as we can.’
But Parish is against the idea of a winter circuit breaker-style stoppage to top-flight football
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appeared to join in with those who want to carry on players, after losing three players – including Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho – to positive coronavirus cases for Thursday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Klopp told his post-match press conference on Thursday: ‘Stopping the league is probably not the right thing but with the schedule we have to be more flexible. We have three players out because of Covid.
‘Then we play on the 26th and the 28th (of December) and you have 13 players available, that’s not possible. There are plenty of questions we need to find answers for but I don’t have the solution.’
HOW OMICRON HAS THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE
The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker shutdown to help clubs recover. Their training ground has been closed and as a result their trip to Southampton on Saturday has been postponed.
Would have been without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid before the game was postponed – despite initial calls being rejected – hours before kick-off. Their training ground was closed on Thursday morning to contain the outbreak but given they have an insufficient number of players available, their weekend trip to Everton is also off.
Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday, and it has emerged that United would have had only seven available players for that game such is the impact of the outbreak. Their training complex is closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission.
Had a request for Wednesday’s game with Wolves to be postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game, which they lost 1-0. Saturday’s game with Manchester United has now been postponed.
Manager Dean Smith was facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Josh Sargent, Lukas Rupp and Pierre Lees-Melou were absent from the squad that faced Aston Villa in midweek for ‘Covid-related’ reasons, but while Christos Tzolis is the only confirmed player to test positive, more positive test results have been returned. The Canaries had discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham and it was agreed to postpone as they have an insufficient number of players available.
Saw their midweek game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. With their training ground closed, their home match with Crystal Palace has now been confirmed as postponed too. Case numbers are currently unknown but they do not sufficient players to fulfil the Palace match.
Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday was postponed despite initial demands to have the game called off were rejected, but Sunday’s clash with Liverpool is due to go ahead.
After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that four more first-team players had tested positive. Mateo Kovacic was the first Chelsea player to get the virus in the outbreak this week, with Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell following. Neverthless, their game with Everton went ahead and was drawn. They are due to play Wolves on Sunday.
It was confirmed just an hour before kick-off against Newcastle on Thursday night that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk were all out having tested positive for Covid. They won the game 3-1 and are due to play Tottenham on Sunday.