By Andrew Warshaw
December 14 – Fears that English football could be heading back into another period of Covid-induced chaos have heightened after Manchester United’s match against Brentford tonight became the latest top-flight fixture to be called off as the Premier League reported its highest weekly rate of infections.
In the latest round of testing, a total of 3,805 tests were carried out between December 6 and 12, with 42 positive results recorded – the highest in a seven-day period since testing began in May 2020.
As a result the league will increase testing of first-team players and staff amid growing concerns about the spread of the omicron variant.
“The safety of everybody is a priority and the Premier League is taking all precautionary steps in light of the recent rise in Covid-19 cases across the country,” a statement said.
“The league has reverted to its emergency measures and will increase the frequency of both lateral flow and PCR Covid-19 testing of players and staff.
“The Premier League’s Covid-19 emergency measures, which are applicable to all clubs, include protocols such as wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time. These are in addition to the more frequent testing.
The postponement of Brentford-United followed that of Tottenham’s trip to Brighton on Sunday. Several other clubs – including Brighton, Norwich and Aston Villa – have also suffered from positive tests among players and staff.
“Our Premier League fixture at Brentford on Tuesday 14 December has been postponed and will be rescheduled in due course,” a United statement said.
“Following PCR confirmation of positive LFT Covid-19 tests among the first-team staff and players, the outbreak requires ongoing surveillance. Given cancellation of training and disruption to the squad, and with the health of players and staff the priority, the club requested the match to be rearranged.”
The government announced last week that fans will need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative test to attend sporting events with crowds of more than 10,000 people in England.
The rules are due to come into effect from December 15 but there now concerns about a potential slew of further match postponements as well as the possibility of returning to reduced capacity attendances. Last season, Newcastle United’s game at Aston Villa was postponed as was Manchester City’s match at Everton.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org