The Premier League has released a statement confirming that matches will go ahead during the festive season despite alarm over the safety of the players and staff. A host of matches were canceled during the last round of fixtures as several players and staff tested positive. 6 of the planned 10 matches were called off while the Premier League rejected Chelsea‘s request to postpone their game against Wolves. Manchester United have seen their last two fixtures postponed.
The statement reads; “It was confirmed at a Premier League club meeting today that while recognizing 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 health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution. A range of issues were discussed at this afternoon’s meeting, including the adaption of the Premier League COVID-19 postponement process in response to the impact of the Omicron variant. The League also confirmed to its clubs today that 92 percent of players and club staff have received one, two, or three COVID-19 vaccination doses, with 84 percent of players on the vaccination journey.
Players who have had one or two doses are required to wait for the appropriate time period before receiving either their second or booster vaccinations. The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the Government’s public health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League, and player vaccination rates will now be publicly communicated at the end of each month, beginning in January.”
The EFL has released a statement confirming that the Carabao Cup will continue. The fixtures will be played where it is safe to do so, and the set squad criteria can be fulfilled by clubs. The FA also released a statement confirming that replays have been removed in both the third and fourth rounds of the 2021/22 Emirates FA Cup to reduce fixture congestion.
Coaches and players have been left flummoxed by the decisions of the clubs and the league. With several coaches (see Thomas Tuchel) complaining about playing with bare bones. The blues had 7 COVID-19 cases within their camp and had players test positive for 4 straight days, but they all had to travel on a team bus together for 3 hours for the Wolves game. The decision is not final though as the UK government may intervene.