Oxford United suspend two youth players ‘and could SACK the pair in a landmark case’ after allegedly breaking Covid rules to attend a New Year’s Eve party… just days after boss Karl Robinson said clubs had become ‘a little bit sloppy’ with protocols
- Oxford United have seen five League One matches postponed this season
- All those call-offs have been due to their opponents testing positive for Covid-19
- Oxford boss Karl Robinson went on BBC Radio 4 to call for more EFL spot-checks
- However, it is his club who are now facing a media storm over player conduct
Oxford United have suspended two youth-team players after they allegedly broke Covid-19 rules to attend a New Year’s Eve party – just days after Karl Robinson had said that some clubs ‘may be getting a little bit sloppy’ with enforcing regulations.
Club officials had considered sacking the pair on Friday before they decided to hand out suspensions pending an investigation into the allegation.
The pair, who play for the Under-21s and Under-18s, could become the first British professional footballers to be sacked for breaching rules brought in to stop the spread of the virus.
The two youth-team players could be sacked after allegedly going to a New Year’s Eve party
A club spokesman told The Athletic that a decision on the players’ futures will be taken as soon as possible.
Manager Robinson appeared on BBC Radio 4 on December 30 and advocated more spot-checks being made on clubs by the EFL, speculating that other teams weren’t completely sticking to the rules.
Robinson’s side had beaten Plymouth 3-2 the previous day in what was one of just five League One games to go ahead after seven matches were called due to outbreaks at various clubs.
Oxford have seen five games called off so far this season after positive tests were returned among their opponents.
‘We all have to tighten up and I think the spot-checks need to happen more regularly,’ he told the Today programme.
‘I don’t think they (the postponements) are through us all doing the right things.
Karl Robinson had questioned whether other clubs were sticking to the rules just last week
‘I think there’s certain aspects of our football clubs that may be getting a little bit sloppy.
‘I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but I think there are certain clubs that are doing things slightly wrong.
‘I think there’s some clubs using gyms inside with too many players and how we change and travel to training.’
Benjamin Mendy remained in Manchester City’s matchday squad after his Covid-19 breach
This latest incident follows a number of the Premier League’s top players being caught red-handed, with anger growing over the flouting of the restrictions.
Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy invited a chef and two of his partner’s friends over to his house for a New Year’s Eve party, with Pep Guardiola launching a defence of the left back as the Frenchman remained in the matchday squad for Saturday’s 3-1 win over Chelsea.
Tottenham trio Sergio Reguilon, Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso and West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini spent Christmas Day together with their families and could face heavy fines from their respective clubs and possible police action.
None of the three Spurs players featured in the 3-0 win over Leeds on January 2 after the Covid breaches had been made public, while Lanzini appeared for the Hammers as a second-half substitute in their victory over Everton on New Year’s Day before issuing an apology for his conduct the following day.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace and Fulham have opened investigations into the conduct of Luka Milivojevic and Aleksandar Mitrovic after the Serbian duo spent New Year’s Eve with at least seven other adults indoors.
Erik Lamela and Sergio Reguilon (pictured) mixed with Giovani Lo Celso and Manuel Lanzini
Serbian duo Luka Milivojevic and Aleksandar Mitrovic were filmed at a New Year’s Eve party