Omicron variant could force Man Utd to play Young Boys in neutral country

·2-min read
BSC Young Boys' Jordan Siebatcheu celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates as Manchester United's Harry Maguire looks dejected. - REUTERS
BSC Young Boys' Jordan Siebatcheu celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates as Manchester United's Harry Maguire looks dejected. - REUTERS

There are fears the omicron variant of coronavirus will force Manchester United to play their final Champions League group game against Young Boys next week in a neutral country.

Telegraph Sport can reveal urgent clarity was being sought from the Swiss government on Monday over whether Ralf Rangnick’s potential first European opponents as interim United manager would need to quarantine for 10 days upon returning from a match in the UK.

Switzerland on Saturday imposed strict new rules on travellers from Britain and other countries to have detected cases of the new Covid-19 variant and Uefa officials were braced for a knock-on effect for games involving clubs from the affected nations.

Under Champions League rules, were Young Boys not exempt from strict quarantine conditions upon returning from the UK, their game against United next Wednesday must be moved – if possible – to a neutral country.

That could cost United millions of pounds in ticket revenue and leave supporters of both sides out of pocket if they have already committed to non-refundable travel expenses.

It would also see United surrender home advantage, facing a side against whom they suffered a shock defeat in their Group F opener in September – although they have since recovered to guarantee top spot, making next Wednesday’s return fixture something of a dead rubber for them.

In the unlikely event a venue in a neutral country could not be sourced in time, the game would be postponed until an available date, probably in the new year.

The lack of an elite sport exemption for those travelling to Switzerland to the UK could also force England manager Gareth Southgate to miss the Nations League draw in Montreux on December 16.

Uefa is unlikely to move an event which could be conducted virtually either in part or, if necessary, in its entirety.

This year’s Winter Universiade in Lucerne on Monday became the first notable sporting casualty of Switzerland’s new travel restrictions when organisers announced its cancellation.

The multisport event, which brings together university athletes from across the globe, had been scheduled to run from December 11-21.

Meanwhile, in the United Rugby Championship, all but two of Munster’s team were cleared by South African authorities to return home after a positive test delayed their planned departure from Cape Town.

Cardiff remained stranded there after two positive cases in their squad were discovered on Sunday.

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