Manchester United is facing a battle to contain a Coronavirus outbreak, with a reported 19 members of the players and staff testing positive, placing Saturday’s fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion in doubt.
Confirming the news on their Club website, the 20-times champions of England, said: “Manchester United can confirm that following PCR test confirmation of yesterday’s positive LFT Covid-19 cases among the first team staff and players, the decision has been taken to close down first team operations at the Carrington Training Complex for 24 hours, to minimise risk of any further infection.”
Manchester United’s players returned to training on Wednesday, with those having previously tested positive absent.
They are said to be in constant contact with the Premier League over the status of their squad, and only 17 were pictured arriving for training on Wednesday. Lateral flow and PCR tests were completed in their cars before they were granted access to the Carrington facilities. Although unconfirmed, reports suggest that two players were refused entry on the spot.Embed from Getty Images
There are troubles elsewhere, with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte and Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers both confirming that they requested fixtures to be postponed due to outbreaks, only to be turned down by the Premier League. Both managers confirmed they had nine players unavailable through Covid and other illnesses.
Spurs already face a huge fixture pile-up, with their fixture away at Burnley cancelled due to snow and their Conference League clash with Rennes still yet to be rearranged, which UEFA are insisting must be played by the end of the month.
Brighton themselves were one of a number of clubs to have suffered an outbreak, however, their fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Amex Stadium was given the green light to go ahead.
In the latest round of Premier League testing, 42 players and staff returned positive, marking the highest amount in a seven-day period since testing began in May 2020.
The news comes just hours after Watford’s visit to Turf Moor to face Burnley was postponed, due to an ongoing outbreak within the visitors’ squad. This is the third Premier League fixture in a week to be postponed, following Tottenham’s visit to Brighton on Sunday and the previously mentioned fixture between Brentford and Manchester United.
A Premier League statement read: “It is with regret the Premier League Board has postponed Burnley’s home fixture against Watford, due to be played this evening (Wednesday 15 December) at 19:30 GMT.
“The decision was taken following guidance from medical advisers due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within Watford’s squad. As a result, the club has an insufficient number of First Team players available to fulfil the match.
“The Premier League understands this decision will disappoint and frustrate fans who were due to attend this evening’s game and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused at such short notice.”
Emergency measures were reintroduced by the Premier League in recent days, after the arrival of the Omicron variant. The protocols included wearing masks when indoors, medical staff wearing full PPE, and spending no longer than 15 minutes receiving therapy.
Clubs have also had to deal with the added pressure of rules making it mandatory for fans to show proof of double vaccination, or a negative lateral flow test on matchdays when there are crowds of more than 10,000.
These plans were part of Boris Johnson’s ‘Plan B’, with the proposals being ratified in parliament on December 14th, by a majority of 243.