Football’s covid crisis: Premier League chairmen consider halting the season for TWO WEEKS in January after EIGHTEEN new positive coronavirus cases and 9 matches called off tonight
- The Premier League announced a record 18 positive Covid-19 cases on Tuesday
- Man City, Sheffield United and Southampton have announced positive cases
- Ten Football League matches on Tuesday were postponed due to coronavirus
- Top-flight chairmen are discussing halting the season for two weeks next month
- There is serious concern that several FA Cup third round ties will be pushed back
Premier League clubs have discussed the possibility of stopping the season for two weeks in January to prevent a spread in coronavirus cases, Sportsmail understands.
Manchester City’s trip to Everton was postponed on Monday night after five staff members from the visitors tested positive for the virus, with more Covid-19-related on Tuesday.
The top-flight announced on Tuesday that 18 positive cases were found in their latest round of testing – the highest in a single batch since regular checks began in August.
Premier League chiefs are discussing stopping the season for two weeks in January after an outbreak that has seen Man City’s game against Everton postponed
PREMIER LEAGUE COVID-19 TEST RESULTS FOR 2020-21 SEASON
Round 1: Aug 31-Sep 6 – 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.
Round 2: Sep 7-13 – 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 3: Sep 14-20- 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.
Round 4: Sep 21-27 – 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.
Round 5: Sep 28-Oct 4 – 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.
Round 6: Oct 5-11 – 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.
Round 7: Oct 12-18 – 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.
Round 8: Oct 19-25 – 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.
Round 9: Oct 26-Nov 1 – 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 10: Nov 2-8 – 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.
Round 11: Nov 9-15 – 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.
Round 12: Nov 16-22 – 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.
Round 13: Nov 23-29 – 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.
Round 14: Nov 30-Dec 6 – 1,483 tested, with 14 testing positive.
Round 15: Dec 7-13 – 1,549 tested, with six testing positive.
Round 16: Dec 14-20 – 1,569 tested, with seven testing positive
Round 17: Dec 21-27 – 1,479 tested, with 18 testing positive
Premier League chairmen held informal talks about a temporary break next month in order to protect their players, staff members and the remainder of the football calendar.
There are fears over widespread postponement of FA Cup third-round matches at the start of the month, with several Football League clubs pushing games back this week.
The Government could force the FA’s hand when it announces the results of the country’s tier system on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, nine matches in League One and League Two were called off as well as Millwall vs Watford in the Championship.
There is serious concern that several FA Cup ties in January will be postponed next month
Sheffield United were one of several top-flight teams to announce positive cases on Tuesday
EFL MATCHES CALLED OFF DUE TO COVID
Millwall v Watford
Peterborough v Charlton
Accrington Stanley v Sunderland
Bristol Rovers v Portsmouth
Fleetwood v Doncaster Rovers
Hull City v Lincoln
Rochdale v Crewe
AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich Town
Bolton v Morecambe
All 64 clubs taking part in the third round of the cup will have to take tests before the round of matches, with the Football Association paying for all checks for sides from outside the Premier League.
The UK announced that a record 53,135 more Covid-19 cases were detected on Tuesday, with 414 deaths.
Also on Tuesday, Sheffield United confirmed that several members of staff had tested positive for the virus and have been placed into self-isolation, but their Premier League match against Burnley still went ahead.
Southampton announced that Ralph Hasenhuttl was not allowed to attend his side’s match with West Ham on Tuesday after a member of his household tested positive for the virus.
In the latest development, reports are appearing that Tottenham’s Premier League match with Fulham on Wednesday is in doubt after several positive cases in the Cottagers’ squad.
Rochdale club doctor Wesley Tensel told Sportsmail on Tuesday that football’s authorities should take strong consideration in stopping the season after a new strand of the virus has been detected.
Dale’s fixture against Crewe Alexandra on Wednesday is not going ahead along with their match at MK Dons this Saturday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will self-isolate after a household member tested positive for Covid-19
‘With everything that’s going on in 2020 and this massive global pandemic, we’re struggling to get on top of things – you can see the numbers are rising. People can’t go on holiday, they can’t do this, they can’t do that,’ Tensel told Sportsmail.
‘If we look back when our kids are at school and they’re doing history of what happened in the pandemic and they see they were still playing football, they were travelling around, it just doesn’t seem to me the wisest thing to be doing.
‘I just feel that, in the grand scheme of things, is football that important in the middle of a pandemic, when I’m seeing lots and lots of people dying with Covid. It doesn’t sit right.’
And an outbreak at Ipswich last week prompted club physio Matt Byard to urge authorities to consider a ‘circuit breaker’ postponement to halt the spread.
Dr Wesley Tensel says football faces the prospect of coming down on the wrong side of history
‘To get seven cases in one week is alarming’: Full statement from Ipswich Town physio Matt Byard
‘In previous cases at clubs, the confirmatory source can normally be isolated down to a coach journey or a lengthy meeting indoors. We however, have had the same protocols in place since we started pre-season training
‘The players are still arriving to training in kit, training and then going straight home. No showers are in use, no canteen where they eat communally. If you consider a staged return to normal behaviour at the training ground in five phases, then we are at the beginning of phase two.
‘We have only had two cases here in nine months [Kayden Jackson and Matt Gill] so to get seven in one week is alarming.
‘We are doing things the right way. We always have done. Players and staff deserve a great deal of credit as they adhere routinely to the guidelines and the new way of operating. This has been thoroughly supported by senior staff and executives. It would have been very easy to allow players and staff to change in the building and have showers, especially given the change in weather. Our adherence to guidelines is still likely to have reduced potential transmission risk, even under these circumstances.
‘This new strain of the virus clearly transmits far quicker than the original Covid strain and we have the data and symptom profile that confirms that is what we are dealing with here.
‘We have tested all the playing and coaching staff and from the results, we can detect the level of infection and see the patterns emerging, however it’s the speed of the transmission that tells us it’s the new strain.
‘We will be re-testing all the staff on Wednesday who have previously tested negative and I do have concerns that there will be more positive cases. It’s important to recognise the timing of testing is absolutely crucial in determining the diagnosis. A wrongly timed test can very likely produce a false result. We have to very closely determine potential transmission risks and consider the period of incubation before becoming infectious.
‘We have been complimented by the EFL for the procedures we have had in place at the training ground and on matchday – and that is one of the reasons they have become very concerned over the latest developments.
‘I know the EFL are looking at bringing in extra measures, with maybe more testing for example. I have always supported routine testing to secure a return to playing programme. Personally, with so many clubs affected by this presently and this new strain development, football may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before a return to playing securely.’
Manager Paul Lambert tested positive for Covid-19 along with five players. General manager Lee O’Neill also tested positive.
Byard said: ‘I know the EFL are looking at bringing in extra measures, with maybe more testing for example. I have always supported routine testing to secure a return to playing programme.
‘Personally, with so many clubs affected by this presently and this new strain development, football may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before a return to playing securely.’
The Premier League season was halted in the middle of March just before the first coronavirus lockdown and football did not appear again until the middle of July.