COVID Wreaks Havoc in Premier League, Clubs Fear Shutdown

Last year, the global spread of the novel coronavirus has led to the shutdown of pretty much every sport (except for the national football league in Belarus that remained pretty much the only thing to see and bet on last spring). Since then, things have opened up again, and fans have returned to the stadiums. But not for long, if things continue the way they are in England today.

A new surge

A new surge is threatening everything from the fans’ access to stadiums moving forward to . In the last few weeks, several games in the Premier League were postponed as a growing number of players are found carrying the novel coronavirus.

An increasing number of players and club staff are tested positive for the virus in the last few weeks. Last week, the number was 42 – the highest since the results of testing has started being published back in May, and more than three times bigger than in the previous week. COVID outbreaks have been detected at several top-flight clubs last week, including Tottenham Hotspur, and more recently Manchester United.

The outbreak at United comes amid a record high number of cases, and it triggered the decision by the Premier League to postpone United’s game against Brentford last night. As a safety measure, the League also decided that it will increase testing of both the players and the staff.

The second in two days

Sunday, Brighton was supposed to meet Tottenham Hotspur on the pitch in a match that ultimately wasn’t played. The club has previously reported that eight of its players and five of its staff were reported positive – at the time, the club has called up players from its youth side to cover for the seniors who were out and officially asked the Premier League to postpone its match this Sunday. Ultimately, its Europa Conference League match against Rennes was also postponed.

Other teams that have discovered COVID-infected players this week include Aston Villa with two positive players, possibly leading to its game against Norwich City being postponed. At this time, though, Villa is not preparing for any delays, saying that it’s ready to face its opponents despite having two men isolated on the sidelines.

Increased testing

The Premier League has introduced new testing requirements for the 20 top-flight clubs. The teams will have to do lateral flow testing (rapid testing) on a daily basis and PCR testing twice a week, to be able to discover and isolate any positive player or staff member in a timely manner.

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