Burnley fans hit out at decision to call off game away to Aston Villa two hours before kick-off

Burnley supporters were left livid after their team’s game away to Aston Villa on Saturday was postponed just over two hours before kick-off. 

A host of games in the Premier League have been unable to take place this weekend because of Covid-19 cases, and Villa couldn’t participate in the fixture following positive test results in the squad overnight in addition to injuries and illness.

This is the second time this week that Burnley have had a game called off on the day of the game, with the same scenario having occurred on Wednesday, when they were due to face Watford at home. 

Burnley fans were angry after their team’s game away to Aston Villa was called off

Sportsmail understands Aston Villa only contacted the Premier League after 10am this morning to inform the top flight that they could not field a team in the fixture against Burnley at Villa Park today.

Appendix 17 of the Premier League handbook states that the game can be postponed if a club cannot field 14 players.

Villa insisted that was the case after an outbreak of Covid-19, combined with illness, injuries and availability.

The Villans situation was complicated by the fact that their Under 23 side played away at Sunderland on Friday night, drawing 0-0 in the north east only returning in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Clarets supporters felt a decision on the game against Villa should have been made earlier

Clarets supporters felt a decision on the game against Villa should have been made earlier

Appendix 17 requires clubs to identify available players, including those who have made first team appearances for Villa or appeared in the first team of Premier League or EFL clubs, previously or on loan.

On its website, the Premier League lists 34 players as part of Aston Villa’s 2021-22 squad. And the club has a further 17 listed in its U23 team, although seven of these are included in both outfits.

However, Villa requested a postponement based on lack of available players.

It is understood that between 10am and 12pm Premier League officials spoke to the medical team at Villa Park to verify the information submitted.

The Premier League board was convened after 12pm and a decision was made prior to the announcement of the postponement around 1pm.

Steven Gerrard found out late on Saturday morning that his team were unable to play

Steven Gerrard found out late on Saturday morning that his team were unable to play

Sources close to the Premier League point out that the organisation reacted with speed once the problem emerged, mindful of the inconvenience to supporters, including 2,000 Burnley fans who arrived in Birmingham to find the game was off.

While supporters will explore the possibility of a refund on the ticket price, they will not recover the cost of travel.

A return rail ticket from Burnley to Birmingham costs £66 and it is a six-hour round trip. 

Burnley supporters who were making the trip to Villa Park felt that a decision on Saturday’s game should have been made much earlier. The game was scheduled to take place at 3pm with Burnley posting the Premier League’s statement regarding the postponement on their Twitter account at 12.49pm.

On Wednesday, Burnley's game against Watford was also postponed at short notice

On Wednesday, Burnley’s game against Watford was also postponed at short notice

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One supporter described the treatment of Burnley fans as ‘disgraceful’.

They wrote: ‘Disgraceful treatment of fans again, and when things get back to normal Burnley will have to squeeze matches on and we have a small squad. So unfair.’

Another individual stated that the Premier League had shown a lack of respect towards match-going fans.

They wrote: ‘The Premier League’s lack of respect to people on the terraces who invest so much time and money in this increasingly dirty business is endless.’

Another fan claimed that, with some of their senior players unavailable, Villa should have been made to field their youngsters.

They wrote: ‘Absolute joke. Make them play their kids!!!’.

One fan questioned whether supporters who travelled to Birmingham would get a refund?

‘Got all the way to Birmingham, do we get compensation? Refund? Can’t guarentee to make it to mid week games’.

Another supporter claimed that Burnley were just as much to blame as Villa for the game being called off.


Another fan described the situation as ‘absolutely disgusting’ and implored Burnley to send a ‘strongly worded’ complaint to the Premier League. 

They wrote: ‘I hope a strongly worded complaint is winging its way to PL HQ for this. 2 games in a row with 2 Hours notice. Absolutely disgusting.’

One individual questioned why injuries were taken into account for the postponement rather than only coronavirus cases.

They wrote: ‘Someone want to tell my why injuries are being taken into account?’

Another supporter wrote: ‘Wow but I can go to work With over 700 people’.

The Premier League’s statement on the game being postponed read: ‘Due to more positive cases in the Aston Villa squad today, the Premier League Board has regrettably had to postpone the club’s home fixture against Burnley FC, due to kick off at 3pm this afternoon.

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‘After reviewing all the new information provided by Aston Villa this morning and receiving separate medical advice, the Board approved the request as a result of the club not having enough players to field a team. This decision was based on the number of Covid cases, injuries and illness.

‘The League understands the decision to postpone the match at such short notice will frustrate and disappoint supporters, and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused.

‘The remaining four Premier League matches due to be played this weekend are currently scheduled to proceed as planned.

Six of the ten Premier League games this weekend have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases

Six of the ten Premier League games this weekend have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases

‘The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and Covid postponement guidance issued to all clubs. It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with.

‘With the health and wellbeing of all players and staff the priority, and in light of the recent rise in Covid cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures. These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time.’

The game between Aston Villa and Burnley was the sixth Premier League match to be called off this weekend, following the postponements of Manchester United v Brighton, Southampton v Brentford, Watford v Crystal Palace, West Ham v Norwich and Everton v Leicester.  

Following a surge in cases of the Omicron variant, Premier League shareholders will meet on Monday amid calls from some clubs to shut down the season. 


Aston Villa 

Forced to postpone Premier League clash with Burnley on December 18 just two hours before kick-off after an increased amount of positive Covid-19 test results within their playing squad. 


The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker szhutdown to help clubs recover. Their training ground has been closed and as a result their trip to Southampton on Saturday has been postponed. 


Would have been without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid before the game was postponed – despite initial calls being rejected – hours before kick-off.  Their training ground was closed on Thursday morning to contain the outbreak but given they have an insufficient number of players available, their weekend trip to Everton is also off.

Manchester United

Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday, and it has emerged that United would have had only seven available players for that game such is the impact of the outbreak. Their training complex is closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

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Had a request for Wednesday’s game with Wolves to be postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game, which they lost 1-0. Saturday’s game with Manchester United has now been postponed.


Manager Dean Smith was facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Josh Sargent, Lukas Rupp and Pierre Lees-Melou were absent from the squad that faced Aston Villa in midweek for ‘Covid-related’ reasons, but while Christos Tzolis is the only confirmed player to test positive, more positive test results have been returned. The Canaries had discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham and it was agreed to postpone as they have an insufficient number of players available. 


Saw their midweek game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. With their training ground closed, their home match with Crystal Palace has now been confirmed as postponed too. Case numbers are currently unknown but they do not sufficient players to fulfil the Palace match.


Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday was postponed despite initial demands to have the game called off were rejected, but Sunday’s clash with Liverpool is due to go ahead.


After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that four more first-team players had tested positive. Mateo Kovacic was the first Chelsea player to get the virus in the outbreak this week, with Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell following. Neverthless, their game with Everton went ahead and was drawn. They are due to play Wolves on Sunday.


It was confirmed just an hour before kick-off against Newcastle on Thursday night that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk were all out having tested positive for Covid. They won the game 3-1 and are due to play Tottenham on Sunday. 

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