Premier League shareholders are set to meet on Monday to discuss a festive shutdown of football, according to reports, as its clubs struggle with several coronavirus outbreaks.
Half of this weekend’s fixtures in England’s top-flight have been called off due to widespread cases among many clubs, with Brentford boss Thomas Frank leading calls to temporarily stop the busy winter schedule so the affected teams can recover.
That is not the view shared by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish, with the latter claiming there is not a high enough ‘level of postponements’ to justify a temporary pause.
Yet according to The Times, Premier League chiefs will meet on Monday to discuss a potential shutdown, just a day after announcing their commitment to stick to the current schedule.
The reported meeting hints that the other half of top-flight fixtures planned for this weekend are set to go ahead, barring any further outbreaks in the squads set to play.
Those fixtures include Arsenal’s trip to Leeds and Tottenham’s match at home to Liverpool on Sunday. Wolves are currently planned to host Chelsea while Manchester City will travel to Newcastle as well.
Manchester United’s clash with Brighton on Saturday lunchtime was one of five matches called off this weekend, with the top-flight striking off four matches in one go late on Thursday.
Ralf Rangnick’s United had just seven players available for the weekend visit of the Seagulls and have closed their Carrington training base until Tuesday. The club’s next game after that is a trip to Newcastle on December 27.
Overall, nine matches have been called off due to outbreaks sparked by the Omicron variant, starting from Tottenham’s match with Brighton on December 12 to the five weekend matches called off on Thursday.
Thursday night’s clash between Leicester City and Tottenham was called off following requests from both camps this week and while Chelsea also reported a small number of cases on Thursday, their 1-1 draw with Everton went ahead.
But the league insisted that no temporary stoppage will be necessary and the top-flight is committed to sticking to the current winter schedule, which sees several teams playing every three days before the New Year.
A Premier League statement on Thursday read: ‘While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks, it is the League’s intention to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority.’
Premier League managers have differed in their views to temporarily stop the season, after Brentford manager Frank came out announcing his club’s desire to announce a temporary stop.
The Danish manager claimed the variant is ‘running like wildfire’ around the world and that shutting down football for at least a week would help clubs get things under control.
Frank told a press conference on Thursday morning: ‘It 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.
Source: The Dailymail