Premier League calls in clubs for covid crisis talks as weekend fixtures halved

December 17 – Premier League clubs will meet for urgent talks on Monday to discuss the escalating crisis caused by the new coronavirus variant that has decimated this weekend’s league programme.

Five more top-flight games have been called off, bringing the total number of games wiped out over the past week to no fewer than nine, possibly with more to come.

The league said in a statement that its intention was “to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible” although a number of club managers have called for a brief suspension.

Adding to the postponement of the Manchester United-Brighton game on Saturday, also off are Southampton-Brentford, Watford-Crystal Palace, West Ham-Norwich (all Saturday) and Everton-Leicester (Sunday).

Only five league games remain.

“The league understands fans will be disappointed these matches have had to be postponed and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused,” the Premier League added.

Although two matches were played on Thursday night, both games had a number of Covid-infected absentee players.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank was informed midway through his news conference on Thursday, ahead of the away match at Southampton on Saturday, of four more cases of the coronavirus among players and staff at his club. That took the total to 13.

“We should postpone the full round of Premier League games this weekend,” Frank said. “COVID cases are going through the roof at all Premier League clubs, everyone is dealing with it and having problems.

“To postpone this round … would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.”

And speaking after the 3-1 defeat by Liverpool on Thursday, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said if all Premier League games aren’t able to go ahead, none of them should.

“I don’t think we want half the games played and half not played,” Howe said. “The league loses something if it becomes disjointed. A decision needs to be made for the integrity of the league.”

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