Premier League and EFL clubs have decided to continue playing in a bid to fulfil festive fixtures, despite the disruption caused in recent weeks by Covid-19.
The Omicron variant has taken hold across the country, but after the Premier League’s 20 clubs met today to discuss the fixture list following six postponed games, the plan remains to go ahead and attempt to play matches where possible.
The BBC has reported that considering postponing a round of fixtures over Christmas was a “possibility”.
It has also been reported that “no vote” took place on the matter with two rounds of fixtures in the Premier League set to take place between December 26 and December 30.
What did the Premier League statement say?
The Premier League confirmed the decision in a statement:
“It was confirmed at a #PL club meeting today that while recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks & challenges, it is the League’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.
“The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution. A range of issues were discussed at this afternoon’s meeting, including the adaption of the Premier League COVID-19 postponement process in response to the impact of the Omicron variant.
“The League also confirmed to its clubs today that 92 per cent of players and club staff have received one, two or three COVID-19 vaccination doses, with 84 per cent of players on the vaccination journey. Players who have had one or two doses are required to wait for the appropriate time period before receiving either their second or booster vaccinations.
“The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the Government’s public-health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League, and player vaccination rates will now be publicly communicated at the end of each month, beginning in January.”
What has the EFL said?
Meanwhile, the EFL have said they will play games “where it is safe to do so”.
These developments come amid pressure on the Premier League to push back the round of fixtures due to begin on 28 December.
But instead clubs have been advised “if they have 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper, they should fulfil their games”.
However, as our sister title NationalWorld reported last week, such a requirement has much more nuance at play.
The Premier League had 42 positive Covid-19 tests last week in a seven-day period, which marked the highest numbers since the start of the pandemic.
Two Championship matches and five League Two games on 26 December have already been called off. The EFL anticipates further postponements but sees “optimism that disruption can be minimised”.
“We will continue to work with clubs, authorities and other agencies to monitor the Covid-19 case rate and be prepared to respond accordingly, yet for now the view remains that we can continue to deliver games safely where clubs have sufficient healthy personnel in place, on and off the pitch,” EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said.
The Premier League, meanwhile, have reissued advice to fans on what to do when they turn up to matches.
They posted on social media: “Attending a #PL match? You must: Be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative lateral flow test, complete your COVID-19 self declaration on your club’s website, only attend if you can show your COVID pass, wear a face covering and follow public health guidance.”
This article was originally published on our sister title, NationalWorld.