PREMIER LEAGUE chiefs remain determined to keep the season on track – despite the latest Covid spike.
Manchester City’s game at Everton on Monday was called off just hours before the scheduled kick-off after a surge in positive tests at the Etihad.
But Sheffield United played at Burnley on Tuesday despite being without three players – Oli McBurnie, Phil Jagielka and Billy Sharp – and boss Chris Wilder reporting that ‘four of five’ of his backroom staff had tested positive.
Fulham’s game at Spurs this evening remained on at midday although Tottenham are understood to believe their rivals may request a postponement.
And while there are increasing concerns over the spread of the virus after the discovery of the fast-growing mutant strains, League chiefs have no current intentions of calling the campaign to a halt.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce sounded the alarm bells after his side’s thrashing by Leeds, while two or three clubs have privately discussed the possibility of a ‘circuit breaker’.
But SunSport understands such a conversation has not included any of the Big Six, who remain fully behind League chief executive Richard Masters in his continuation strategy.
There has also been no attempt to get the 20 clubs together to discuss the evolving situation.
At this stage, the next meeting of the 20 ‘shareholders’ has yet to be scheduled and is unlikely to take place until the back end of January.
That meeting will almost certainly have to address ‘curtailment’ issues if the League has to go into a temporary or even longer-term hiatus.
Clubs accepted at the start of the season that there needed to be a set of rules in place and that a points per game formula would likely be adopted if required.
But there was no agreement on the threshold of games for the season to be deemed “completed” if it ended early.
So far, League bosses believe they have acted sensibly and are putting the health, safety and welfare of clubs first.
West Ham boss David Moyes, though, articulated the concerns of a number of clubs – led by Aston Villa and Everton – by demanding more transparency from the Prem over the precise rationale behind when games could be postponed.
Everton were frustrated by the late decision to call off their game with City, pointing to regulations that suggested clubs could only ask for postponements if they had fewer than 14 senior players available.
League chiefs, though, insist that the regulations always gave the board room to exercise discretion and that the precedent was set when Newcastle’s game at Aston Villa in early December was called off after the Toon training ground was closed down following a virus outbreak.
City, who were awaiting the results of Tuesday’s mass screening of players and staff, fear that their outbreak could be worse than the one that saw Newcastle unable to train for more than a week.
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