December 21 -Premier League fixtures over Christmas and New Year are to controversially go ahead despite calls for a two-week break because of the surge in Covid-19 infections that has already caused nine matches to be postponed.
The division’s 20 clubs met on Monday to discuss how the season would continue.
The English Football League will also carry on as normal though authorities have confirmed that replays in the Third and Fourth rounds of the FA Cup will be scrapped, helping to lessen mounting fixture congestion in 2022.
A statement from the Premier League read: “While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks and challenges, it is the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.”
The decision comes despite Premier League players and club staff returning a record 90 positive tests last week.
It has also been revealed that 77% of Premier League players have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 92% of players and club have staff have had at least one jab.
It had been expected that the Premier League’s programme starting on December 26 would be postponed in order to ease the pressure on squads. Instead, clubs have been advised if they have 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper, they should fulfil their games.
Chelsea were left infuriated on Sunday when forced to play their match at Wolverhampton Wanderers with just four outfield players on the bench due an outbreak of positive tests.
“I don’t care so much about the next games I just care about the next tests and the health of the players,” said manager Thomas Tuchel. “We were just worried about the safety of players and the players were concerned about their health.”
And Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after Sunday’s draw at Tottenham that playing on December 26 and 28 was not feasible.
“It’s impossible, we don’t have the players,” Klopp said. “We have to think we will get an extra case or two. We cannot just push it through.”
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