The Premier League’s clubs have decided to press on with the season and not to seek the postponement of one round of fixtures over the Christmas period or a more substantial pause.
The clubs discussed what is a nuanced and complex issue at an emergency meeting on Monday, when the subject of how to treat unvaccinated players was also raised. It is understood that new guidance on them is set to be implemented.
With Covid cases rising and a host of games already postponed, the clubs talked through three options with regard to the calendar: to carry on playing; to defer one of the upcoming two rounds of fixtures, to be played on 26-27 December and 28-30 December; and to stop playing entirely while the outbreak gripped.
A handful of clubs favoured option two, with one of them understood to be Liverpool, who took their lead from the manager, Jürgen Klopp. He feels that it is irresponsible to make the players play twice in such a short space of time in the current climate, when squads are stretched because of Covid issues. Liverpool have four players in isolation because of positive tests.
The vast majority of clubs, mindful – principally – of the potential for a horrendous fixture pile-up that could derail the season, indicated a readiness to play on. It was also acknowledged that it would be problematic to fairly postpone just one of the next two rounds as, plainly, some clubs have easier fixtures in the first of them; some in the second. No club said that they wanted to pause the season.
In an attempt to reduce or eliminate the number of last-minute postponements, clubs have been asked to update the league every day on the availability of their players. Aston Villa v Burnley on Saturday was the latest match called off about two hours before kick-off. It is understood the league is paying for more PCR labs to help speed up daily testing.