Premier League is due to rethink its regulations on postponement, following a series of contentious decisions to postpone games in recent weeks.
According to reports, a Premier League conference with all 20 top-flight clubs would be held after the next round of matches to discuss potential rule changes.
The Premier League hopes that the two-and-a-half-week break will give clubs ample time to adjust to any rule changes, according to The Athletic.
‘The Premier League is discussing with our clubs regarding COVID-19 postponement rules and guidance in light of the changing national picture and the dropping number of cases within our squads,’ the league stated in a statement on Wednesday.
‘The league’s existing guidance was revised in December in response to the appearance of the new Omicron variety, and we will continue to monitor the virus’s effects and alter our guidance as needed.’
The Premier League has been under fire in recent weeks after some clubs’ games were rescheduled owing to Covid instances, injuries, bans, and absences due to the Africa Cup of Nations.
A total of 21 games have been rescheduled, raising concerns about the league’s credibility.
The most recent being Sunday’s North London derby, which was controversially called off due to Arsenal’s inability to field a team for the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The current rules provide that if one of the sides is unable to field 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper, the game will be postponed as long as the players are “either from its squad list of adequately experienced Under 21 players.”
Clubs must avail the following information when seeking for a match to be postponed, according to Premier League rules, which are stated on their website:
- Players and staff who have returned a positive COVID-19 test, their vaccination status and, if known, the source of their infections
- Players and staff who are self-isolating
- Players who are unavailable to play through injury or illness
- Players listed on the club’s squad list who are still available to play in the match, including appropriately experienced Under-21 players (which includes Under-21 players who have played for the club, another Premier League or EFL club, or an overseas club in the current season. However, any Under-21 player who participates in a club’s FA Cup Round Three match and has not played in any other first-team competitions for the club this season will not be considered by the Board as appropriately experienced)
- Supporting medical information to verify the status of each unavailable player, which will be reviewed by the League’s medical advisers
Arsenal’s plea to postpone was granted, despite the fact that at least a dozen players were unavailable due to positive Covid cases, injuries, suspension, and international service.
This prompted Premier League players such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to criticize the league, with Neville claiming that the lack of transparency surrounding Premier League clubs requesting match postponements suggested that many were now doing so for reasons other than the pandemic, which should not be allowed.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte claims the delay situation has ruined the season and claims he has never worked in a league that allows games to be called off due to injury.
Conte also chastised the Premier League for causing’significant damage’ to Tottenham by refusing to reschedule their trip to Leicester — which was initially scheduled for December 16 — resulting in his club’s expulsion from Europe.
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