On Monday, December 20, 2021, the Premier League board met with the representatives of the 20 clubs in the league and none of them agreed to halt the league amid the outbreak of the pandemic.
The Premier League had to organize the meeting when 90 league players and some coaches tested positive for the virus between 13 and 19 December. The high number of confirmed cases forced about 5 league games to be postponed last weekend.
Recall that five of last Saturday’s Premier League fixtures were called off due to the pandemic. Only the game between Arsenal and Leeds United took place last Saturday.
Ahead of Sunday’s fixtures, Chelsea requested that their Premier League game against Wolves should be postponed but the league body rejected the application. Hence the game went on and ended in a 1-1 draw.
🗣 "We put COVID into a Premier League match."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 20, 2021
Thomas Tuchel is not happy about the expectation from the Premier League for allowing Chelsea's game to go ahead when they had players unavailable because of COVID pic.twitter.com/K6MIzybeor
Ahead of the league body’s meeting on Monday, the three options on the table for discussion were:
- Carry on playing
- Postpone the whole round of upcoming Sun-Mon fixtures or next week’s Tues-Thurs fixtures
- Stop playing
The majority of the clubs agreed to carry on playing except a couple of clubs led by Liverpool that wanted the whole round of upcoming Sun-Mon fixtures or next week’s Tues-Thurs fixtures to be postponed.
At the end of the meeting, none of the clubs agreed to halt the league completely which have made it the second time in two years such a scenario had happened. Recall that the Premier League was halted for about three months before it resumed behind closed doors during the 2019-2020 season.
As it stands, each club is expected to play at least two games next week and the Premier League board has advised the clubs to fulfill their fixtures as far as they have at least 13 fit players available for a game including a goalkeeper.
Also, the English Football League (EFL) including the Carabao Cup will continue during the festive season despite the rising cases of the virus.
The EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Throughout the pandemic, our two priorities have been ensuring the welfare of those involved in EFL competitions and ensuring the fixture schedule can continue where it is safe to do so.
“We will continue to work with clubs, authorities, and other agencies to monitor the Covid-19 case rate and are prepared to respond accordingly, yet for now the view remains that we can continue to deliver games safely where clubs have sufficient healthy personnel in place, on and off the pitch.
“With club mitigation measures, the mass adoption of booster jabs, and Covid certification now required for larger crowds, we are sure many fans will continue to feel confident in attending matches over the Christmas period and we look forward to welcoming them.”
🗣 "I saw Thomas' [Tuchel] bench from Chelsea, he has to play Kovacic he came back from a long-term injury, come on."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 19, 2021
Jurgen Klopp says there is a lot to consider from the Premier League about making teams play with COVID cases pic.twitter.com/EL5241pRaB
Meanwhile, the Premier League has confirmed that 77 percent of the players in the league have been fully vaccinated against the virus. While 84 percent of the players have received at least one jab of the vaccine. This means that over 16 percent of the players are yet to be vaccinated as of the time of publishing this report.