EPL

Rule change means Premier League clubs must have at least four COVID-19 cases to request postponement

By Sports Desk January 26, 2022

Premier League teams will need to have at least four confirmed COVID-19 cases in order to apply for a match to be postponed from next month.

In a change to league rules announced on Wednesday, a new "impact threshold" will be introduced, meaning clubs can no longer request for a game to be called off if they have a single case of coronavirus.

The change will come into effect ahead of the match between Burnley and Watford on February 5. The game was twice rescheduled because of cases of the virus leaving each side struggling to name a full contingent of players.

Announcing the new rule, the Premier League said: "Throughout the pandemic, the Premier League has adapted its guidance in response to the wider public health situation. The guidance was last updated in December in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

"The League's postponement rules and guidance are designed to protect the wellbeing of players and staff, while maintaining the sporting integrity of the competition and the quality of squads playing League matches.

"Club applications will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Premier League Board examines a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of COVID-19; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.

"The detail within all applications is scrutinised by the League’s specialist staff before the Board makes its decision."

Previously, teams could apply for a postponement if they had a confirmed case of the virus within the squad and were unable to name 13 available players plus a goalkeeper, with injuries and international absences also taken into account.

Frustration began to build among teams and fans as 22 matches were called off, including the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, with the Gunners' request for a new date granted after Martin Odegaard tested positive.

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