The Premier League has postponed the match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night over coronavirus fears. The match is the first Premier League game to be postponed since the outbreak of the deadly virus which has so far killed six in the UK.
FutballNews understands that the league management called off the match after a number of Arsenal players and staff members met with Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who tested positive to the virus on Tuesday.
Marinakis attended the Europa League clash between his Greek club and the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on February 27 and the club revealed a number of players had contact with him after the game.
A Premier League statement said: “Tonight’s game between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed as a precautionary measure following the announcement yesterday that Evangelos Marinakis has contracted COVID-19.
“Thirteen days ago, Olympiakos played at the Emirates Stadium in the Europa League and Mr Marinakis, the Greek club’s owner, met with several Arsenal squad members and staff.
“Following medical advice, Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC consider it is necessary to postpone their fixture due to be played this evening to give time to fully assess the situation.
“The Premier League has therefore agreed that tonight’s game will be rearranged.
“We understand this will cause inconvenience and cost to fans planning to attend the game but Arsenal, Manchester City, and the Premier League have agreed that the short notice of Mr Marinakis’ infection means there is no alternative but to take the time to complete a proper assessment of risk.
‘All necessary measures are being taken and the Premier League currently has no plans to postpone any other matches.”
Arsenal revealed in a statement said that Arsenal players and staff now set to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period. The club added that the players and staff are following Government guidelines and those who were in close contact with Marinakis would return to training on Friday.
The club said: “The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low. However, we are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.
“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.
“The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff, who were sitting close to Mr Marinakis during the match will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete.”
Also reacting to the postponement, City said: “Manchester City’s Premier League fixture at home to Arsenal has been postponed.
“The decision to postpone tonight’s game has been taken as a precautionary measure on medical advice, after it emerged that personnel from Arsenal FC have come into contact with the Olympiacos owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who has been named as a positive case of COVID-19.
“Manchester City FC wishes Mr Marinakis a speedy recovery, and further information will follow in the coming days about rescheduled dates, but supporters are advised not to travel to Etihad Stadium for this fixture.”
Marinakis sparked panic across English football on Tuesday when he revealed he had contracted the Covid-19 virus.
He wrote on Instagram: “The recent virus has ‘visited’ me and I felt obliged to let the public know.
“I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and discipline to the doctors’ instructions.
“I wish all a quick recovery.”
Meanwhile, Wolves were incensed that Uefa rejected their request to postpone the match with Olympiacos tomorrow in Greece – which the club said was an “unnecessary risk”.
The match in Athens had already been ordered to be played behind closed doors. Olympiacos followed Forest’s lead by sending their entire playing squad for tests.
“There are some things that are more important than football,” Wolves said.
“The good health of our pack and the general public is one of them.
“Our position is that the trip poses an unnecessary risk to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times.”
“Our concern is also for our opponents, whose players and staff have today been tested, and will now be expected to play their part in an important fixture, under the difficult and challenging circumstances of their owner suffering from the virus,” added Wolves.