Spurs’ covid crisis forces Brighton game off and Vitesse to question fairness of Conference League

December 10 – The Covid outbreak sweeping through English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, which put paid to Thursday’s Europa Conference League fixture, has now forced Sunday’s Premier League game at Brighton to also be postponed.

Thursday’s match against Conference league group winners Rennes, which Spurs had to win to remain in UEFA’s third-tier competition, was called off with 24 hours’ notice with the two clubs at loggerheads over the decision.

Spurs were without eight Covid-hit first-team players and five coaching staff but despite Rennes’ objections to the manner of the decision, UEFA confirmed it and are now trying to reschedule the fixture.

Tottenham are already having to find a replacement date for their recent domestic fixture at Burnley which was called off because of snow and will now have to additionally squeeze the Brighton game into a congested calendar after an alarming rise in coronavirus cases at the club.

A Premier League statement said the decision to postpone the Brighton game was made “following guidance from medical advisers, with the health of players and staff the priority.”

Spurs added: “We should like to apologise to everyone at Stade Rennais and Brighton & Hove Albion and to both their supporters and ours for any inconvenience caused. We should also like to thank both clubs for their understanding during these challenging times.”

Despite the conciliatory tone of the Spurs statement, Rennes had already made it abundantly clear they were unhappy and now Vitesse, who could have advanced at Tottenham’s expense, have expressed their own frustration at having to wait to see whether they will go through to the knockout stage.

Vitesse beat group outsiders NS Mura 3-1 on Thursday night in what should have been a race with Spurs for second place in the group. But with Uefa now looking to reschedule Tottenham-Rennes, the Dutch outfit have questioned the integrity of having to play their own match beforehand.

“Anyone who cares about Vitesse has been looking forward to the big decision in the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League for two weeks, but on the day of the final match against NŠ Mura, a very unpleasant development took place in Group G,” read a Vitesse statement.

“The game between Tottenham Hotspur and Stade Rennais FC, the course of which is crucial for Vitesse, was cancelled after a corona outbreak at Spurs”

This, Vitesse said, created “an undesirable situation. UEFA regulations require that all matches in the group’s final round of play must be played at the same time. Although there is a provision on unforeseen circumstances, this concerns very important interests for clubs, whereby a fair course of competition must be guaranteed at all times.”

“Vitesse and Tottenham Hotspur compete for a place in the knockout phase of the Conference League and that must be a fair, simultaneous battle.

“Vitesse has not (yet) received an official message from UEFA about the consequences of the cancellation in London for Vitesse vs NŠ Mura.”

“If Tottenham Hotspur vs Stade Rennais FC is moved to a later moment, that will be a significant disadvantage for Vitesse from a sporting point of view, because both teams are highly dependent on each other’s result.”

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