Newcastle’s covid crisis forces first Premier League postponement

December 2 – Just as a limited number of fans are being allowed back into top-flight English games this coming weekend, so the unpredictability of Covid-19 has starkly hit home with Newcastle United’s game at Aston Villa on Friday becoming the first Premier League fixture this season to be  postponed because of the disease.

Five Newcastle players and two staff members have reportedly tested positive and the club, who admitted there had been a “significant increase” in cases,  lodged a request with the Premier League to postpone the fixture which was approved.

Aston Villa say they “fully support” the decision to postpone the match which was due to be shown live on Sky.

In a statement Newcastle, whose entire training centre has been temporarily closed in order to contain the spread of the virus, said it was working with local health authorities and the Premier League “to identify the source of the outbreak and to ensure the risk of further transmission continues to be minimised.”

Last weekend it emerged that three individuals within the first-team bubble had tested positive and, following a further round of testing on Sunday, additional players also returned positive tests.

Newcastle have been unwilling to identify those affected but the case will deliver a clear message to those who want fans pouring back through the turnstiles that supreme caution is still needed to stop the virus spreading.

On Tuesday, just as the country came out of lockdown, an alarming 603 more Covid-related deaths were recorded.

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