News   |    January 20th, 2022

COVID CONUNDRUM

Given the pandemic and its many challenges, it is fantastic to see professional sports returning to normal. However, there comes a point when even the most sophisticated facilities and teams across the world become affected by the relentless Covid-19 onslaught.

In order to limit the spread of Covid, the Premier League has offered teams the ability to apply to postpone their game if they have an exceptionally high number of cases in their squad combined with injuries. Most recently, Burnley v Watford has been postponed, which has fuelled the debate as to the actual integrity shown by clubs when applying to postpone games.

Following the postponement of the Tottenham v Arsenal game, Gary Neville tweeted his thoughts saying “What started out as postponements due to a pandemic has now become about clubs not having their best team,” Further adding, “The Premier League must stop this now, draw a line in the sand and say all games go ahead unless you have an exceptional amount of Covid cases. It’s wrong.” It is certainly hard to argue when Arsenal in fact only had one official case of Covid, and in the top flight this week only 33 players and staff tested positive for Covid out of 13,600 tests. Neville responded to these figures with “We don’t know the exact breakdown between players and staff but it’s clear that now we must stop calling fixtures off.”

What once started off as an honest, innocent method of preventing the genuine spread of Covid seems to have evolved into a scheme to gain an unfair advantage when clubs are unable to field their best team. This throws another challenge in the way for the Premier League and EFL alike, as with the increasing lack of trust in clubs, and consistency in postponements, the media and fans will soon be looking for answers.

One thing we must remember is the safety of the players, staff and fans. Whether there is politics or gamesmanship involved, there is a wider picture that remains the most important when making decisions. Let’s hope the Premier League, clubs, media and fans can come to a compromise so that we can keep the game we love on for all to see.

Image – Getty

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management.

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