Premier League clubs have discussed the possibility of a two-week break in an attempt to prevent the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc with an already ultra-congested fixture list.
Earlier on Tuesday the Premier League announced it had returned its highest number of positive coronavirus tests of the season, with 18 new cases.
Sheffield United were the first club to confirm they had recorded ‘a number’ of positive tests, hot on the heels of Manchester City postponing Monday night’s fixture against Everton following an outbreak.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, meanwhile, will take charge of his side against West Ham remotely this evening with the Austrian self-isolating after a member of his family tested positive.
According to the Daily Telegraph the Chairmen of the 20 Premier League clubs held talks after the latest round of testing amid fears that a postponement looks to be an increasing inevitability.
There are particular concerns around the likelihood of mass cancellations ahead of the third round of the FA Cup which is due to begin on the weekend commencing January 9.
Although all 64 competing teams are set to undergo mass testing, several lower league clubs have already been forced to postpone matches, with nine EFL matches having fallen victim to the virus last week.
Although a two-week ‘cooling off’ period would ease the immediate problem, fitting in the remaining fixtures would represent a far from straightforward task given several Premier League clubs already have games in-hand over their rivals, while the season is slated to finish on May 23, three weeks ahead of the rescheduled European Championship.
Following the latest test results, the Premier League released a statement which read: ‘Between Monday 21 December and Sunday 27 December, 1,479 players and Club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, there were 18 new positive tests.
‘Players or club staff who have tested positive will self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
‘The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.’
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