After so far failing to heed the advice of medical experts demanding a temporary halt to mass gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have broken ranks and decided to suspend all games for the foreseeable future.
Up until now the EFL had gone along with the Premier League’s ‘head in the sand’ approach to dealing with COVID-19, and according to one BBC report tensions between the two groups have bee mounting ahead of a special crisis meeting on Friday morning.
It came in the wake of a new report that suggests more than 10,000 could already be carrying the coronavirus strain, while over in the USA both the NBA and the MLS have announced a suspension of their seasons for at least 30 days to go along with the PGA Tour’s hastily-arranged decision to cancel tournaments in the middle of the PLAYERS Championship.
The government has announced its own plans to tackle the spread by stepping up their response to the ‘delay’ protocol – this is where ‘social distancing’ will be introduced, which would include the cancellation of all major mass gatherings of people such as football matches.
The same BBC report confirms that the EFL are ‘strongly opposed’ to any of their games being played behind closed doors, as that would have severe financial repercussions for many of their teams and especially those at the bottom end of the food chain.
In contrast, the Premier League wished to play their games behind closed doors to ensure that the season is completed promptly, despite a number of players and staff at top-flight clubs being infected with COVID-19.
The two groups did come to an agreement that all games should be postponed until April 3rd. The Women’s Super League and Championship also followed this move.
Arteta and Hudson-Odoi the Latest Positive Cases
Football continues to be affected by coronavirus from the inside out.
A number of players at European clubs have already tested positive, including Daniele Rugani and Manolo Gabbiadini.
And the pandemic has become deeply rooted in the English game with Mikel Arteta testing positive just days after his Arsenal team were placed into quarantine after interactions with the infected Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis.
“This is really disappointing,” Arteta said. “I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”
That has forced the Premier League to act and postpone the Gunners’ proposed trip to Brighton on Saturday, and it always seemed likely that more cancellations would come given that the Chelsea squad is now also in quarantine.
That was the necessary move after their winger, Callum Hudson-Odoi, also tested positive for COVID-19, although no decision has yet been made regarding their weekend game against Aston Villa.
In addition, three Leicester City players have reportedly been self-isolating, a reported on Thursday, although it is not believed that the rest of their squad has been affected.
And up at Everton, the entire first team squad has been quarantined after an unnamed player had shown symptoms of the virus.
Common sense seems to have prevailed with the Premier League announcing a suspension of all matches along with the EFL until the international break at the earliest.