Coronavirus Impact on Games

31st Dec 2020

Coronavirus – is there a chance the Premier League will not be played out or is there a further threat to the Euros?

As we move into 2021 we are still not in to the second half of the season in terms of games played with nearly half the teams in the league having played less than 16 of the 38 scheduled fixtures and  Aston Villa and Manchester City having only played only 14 games.

With tighter national restrictions and measures and cases rising is there a risk of the league not finishing especially if a circuit break does go ahead. The Premier League have ruled out a circuit break although managers have differing opinions. West Brom’s new gaffer Sam Allardyce has voiced support for a break as the number of positive coronavirus tests continued to rise however Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has insisted that his club are successfully following the required protocols and therefore games need not be postponed.

The Premier League season is due to finish by 23rd May and the FA cup final a week later.

The European Championships are set to start on 11th June, which have already been pushed back from 2020 which is just 13 days after the Champions League final.

As agents of players in the Premier League and Championship and the lower leagues we are interested to see how things will develop.

There is a real risk of postponing or even cancelling the Euros again or delaying the start of domestic leagues or instead perhaps considering forfeiting games or a points per game calculation as was seen in League one and Two last season.

We have recently seen Spurs v Fulham postponed, Villa v Newcastle postponed and Everton v Man City postponed despite City then reopening their training centre just two days after. Everton have called for a full enquiry into why the game was postponed despite Man City being easily able to field 11 players and 3 subs being the minimum requirement.

There have been positive results returned in every round of testing in the Premier League this season, including a new high of 18 in the latest batch between December 21 and 27 from 1470 tests done. The tests do include coaching and support staff as well as players.

Players and managers are missing games. Southampton boss Ralph Hassenhuttl had to miss their game with West Ham after a member of his household tested positive. On Christmas Day Manchester City announced Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker along with two members of club staff had tested positive which led to the game with Everton being called off.

Tottenham’s match with Fulham became the third Premier League game this season to be postponed after Fulham had a number of positive results.

The English Football Leagues has confirmed 43 games in the Championship, League One, and League Two had been affected by coronavirus.

Clubs can have 25 players registered in a season and that doesn’t include under 21-year-old players.

The Premier League handbook states that permission will not be granted to postpone a league match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available.

Manchester City had initially 20 fit players for the game v Everton with 5 injuries but then 4 positive coronavirus test results came back taking the total to 16. Despite being above the minimum 14 requirement (and not taking into account U21 players) the game was postponed.

The Premier League Board have said they took medical advice into consideration when deciding to call postpone.

Should Man City have forfeited the game? Tottenham were given a bye past Leyton Orient in the third round of the cup earlier this season after the League Two side had positive tests. The difference here was that this was a cup game and there was a need to set a precedent for cup games to be forfeited before the 4th round in order to prevent the final date being impacted which as already been moved to April. Carabao Cup rules make it clear that that forfeits only apply in the first four rounds of the competition and that from the quarter-finals onwards a rearranged date would be preferable.

As above there is a tight schedule if clubs are to complete their remaining 24 games by 23rd May or will be see some forfeits or will we face the Euro’s being postponed again? Only time will tell.

McHale Sports are an award winning law firm and sports management agency with professional athletes around the world. We act as agents and also advise players and clubs separately.

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