Premier League set to run through holiday calendar despite COVID outbreak

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Premier League clubs have agreed to continue playing the scheduled games over the holiday season despite the postponement of several matches due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the league said after a meeting between all teams on Monday .

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Ten Premier League games have been postponed this month due to outbreaks in a busy schedule where teams are expected to play three times between Boxing Day and January 3.

The Premier League released a statement shortly after the meeting indicating that a record 90 new cases of COVID-19 were detected among players and staff over the past week, a significant increase from its total of 42 in the previous round from December 6 to 12.

“Everyone’s safety is a priority and the Premier League is taking all precautionary measures in light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the country,” the league said in a statement.

Only four of the weekend’s 10 games were played after teams told the Premier League they were running out of players due to COVID-19.

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The Premier League only grants a deferral if a club has fewer than 14 players available, with the board considering requests on a case-by-case basis.

“While acknowledging that a number of clubs are facing epidemics and challenges related to COVID-19, the league collectively intends to continue the current match schedule as safely as possible,” said the Premier League.

“A range of issues were discussed at this afternoon’s meeting, including the adaptation of the Premier League’s COVID-19 postponement process in response to the impact of the Omicron variant.

“The league also confirmed to its clubs today that 92% of players and club staff have received one, two or three doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, with 84% of players on the vaccination course.”

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THE REPLAYS OF THE FA CUP AT THE CLOSING

The English Football Association (FA) said the FA Cup reruns of the third and fourth rounds have been deleted to help clear the backlog of matches after several postponements.

“Ties in the third and fourth rounds of this season’s competition will be played until the end of the day, with extra time and penalties if necessary,” the FA said.

However, the English Football League (EFL), which also hosts the League Cup, said its matches will go as planned.

The semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue are played over two rounds in January. The competition’s quarter-finals – with seven Premier League teams in action – are set to be played this week.

While the League recognizes that there will likely be future postponements to navigate where COVID-19 cases are identified, it is optimistic that disruption can be minimized after the implementation of RED protocols, a testing regime daily and the continued rollout of immunization, ”said the EFL.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “We will continue to work with clubs, authorities and other agencies to monitor the rate of COVID-19 cases and be ready to respond accordingly.

“For now, the opinion remains that we can continue to run games safely where clubs have enough healthy staff in place, on and off the pitch.”

The EFL postponed 19 games in its divisions last weekend due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

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