Premier League to continue over Christmas with no break despite Covid outbreaks

·2-min read
 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

The Premier League is set to continue its festive schedule without a circuit breaker following an emergency meeting of clubs on Monday.

Executives from the 20 clubs discussed suspending a round of matches or halting the season altogether in order to allow Covid-19 outbreaks to come under control and ease the pressure on depleted squads.

But a majority of clubs were in favour of playing on and no options went to a vote.

The Premier League has pushed to continue its schedule “where safe to do so” and clubs were advised that they should be prepared to play if they have 13 available players, including a goalkeeper.

Six of this weekend’s ten matches were postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks, with nine games in total having so far been called off amid a surge in national cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Replays are set to be scrapped in the FA Cup third and fourth-rounds, while there is also talk of reducing the EFL Cup semi-finals to one leg as a one-off measures to ease fixture congestion in the New Year.

Clubs discussed whether to suspend the round of matches on Boxing Day and December 27, or Gameweek 20, which starts on 28 December.

Liverpool were thought to be among the clubs to have pushed for Gameweek 20 to be called off, with their manager Jurgen Klopp saying it was impossible for his depleted squad to play on both December 26 and 28.

“It’s impossible, we don’t have the players,” Klopp said after Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham. “We have to think we will get an extra case or two. We cannot just push it all through. The 26th and 28th, that’s not possible. We would prefer to play but we need help with the fixtures.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has also expressed concern at the schedule, saying his players were put at “huge risk” of both Covid and injury by having to face Wolves on Sunday.

The Premier League board had rejected a request from the Blues to postpone the match and Tuchel was only able to name just four outfield players on the bench for the 0-0 draw.

Last week, there were 42 positive Covid-19 tests among players and staff over a seven-day period, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, and updated figures for the most recent seven-days are expected later on Monday.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank was the first manager to publicly call for a circuit breaker, suggesting this weekend’s matches and this week’s Carabao Cup quarter-final ties be postponed.

The seven top-flight clubs still involved in the Carabao Cup are set to play on December 22 and 23, with another round of League games starting on New Year’s Day.

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