Premier League clubs to discuss halting games at meeting on Monday

Premier League clubs are set to hold crunch talks over a festive firebreak, with top-flight executives to discuss halting games at a meeting on Monday after Covid ripped through the weekend’s fixture schedule

  • Six of the 10 Premier League games at the weekend were called off due to Covid
  • One possible option is postponing one round of fixtures from December 28 to 30
  • Protocol around calling off matches will also be discussed at summit meeting 
  • Players who have not yet received vaccinations will feature on the agenda, too

Premier League clubs will on Monday consider triggering a Christmas circuit-breaker at an emergency summit.

Senior representatives from every top-flight side are meeting to discuss what has been described as a ‘festive firebreak’ as Covid continues to rip through the fixture schedule with six of the 10 Premier League games at the weekend called off.

A short break, which would involve postponing one round of fixtures from December 28 to 30, is one of the options to be discussed, although it remains unclear whether it will gain the support of 14 of the 20 clubs needed to be introduced, as some such as Tottenham, have already had an enforced rest.

Newcastle duo Jacob Murphy (L) and Karl Darlow (R) show their Covid passes at St James’ Park

The financial ramifications of reneging on the various television deals are expected to be made clear, along with the fact that there is little space in the calendar given the disruption caused by a winter World Cup in Qatar. 

The impact on player welfare will also be discussed. Players who have not yet been vaccinated will feature on the agenda but it is unlikely that those who refuse the jab will find themselves segregated in training and travel.

Protocol around calling off matches will also be discussed amid complaints from fans that the late call-offs are leaving them stranded. On Saturday, Aston Villa’s match with Burnley was postponed two hours before kick-off.

The Premier League is employing a ‘matchday minus one’ PCR testing system. Results are understood to take 12 hours, which leaves little time for manoeuvre.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola stressed that the Covid spread was not just football’s issue

There have also been raised eyebrows over the rescheduling of a meeting between players and captains which had been scheduled on Monday but had to be moved because of the summit. Some believe that it should have gone ahead and the views taken into account at boardroom level.

One insider said: ‘It does not make any sense. The people this affects most are the players and managers, so why on earth would you can their meeting? You would imagine their feedback would be the most important factor to consider.’

Some have heavily criticised the top flight, with a number of players still to get the jab. But after his Manchester City side’s 4-0 win at Newcastle United on Sunday, manager Pep Guardiola made the point that the Covid spread was not just football’s issue.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp warned Premier League clubs will need help to continue playing

He said: ‘It’s not a Premier League problem, it’s society’s. I see people in the streets, nobody wearing masks, nobody social distancing. We try to create a good environment for our players and staff as the dangers are still here. This is a worldwide problem. The new variant is here. We will support the Premier League.’

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp added: ‘If we carry on, we cannot just carry on like usual. We said before coronavirus that it is busy and people just cannot get enough from football or the money they get. Nobody has taken a step back so far and now coronavirus gives us a problem.

‘If we can play through, we might wake up tomorrow and find we have a lot of cases and we cannot play anyway. We would prefer to play but we then need help.’

Aston Villa postponed their clash with Burnley after suffering a Covid outbreak

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