Just hours after releasing a statement confirming that Premier League and EFL football matches were set to proceed as normal this weekend in front of spectators, the Premier League now appears to be changing its course again, after a prominent manager and a professional footballer have each tested positive for COVID-19.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi have both tested positive for the coronavirus, calling further attention to an already worrying global pandemic that has caused numerous sports leagues and competitions to be postponed or cancelled.
Immediately after Arteta’s diagnosis, Brighton & Hove Albion, Arsenal’s opponent this Saturday, announced that it was postponing the match.
Saturday's @premierleague match against @Arsenal has been postponed following the news that broke earlier this evening concerning Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta.#BHAFC ⚪️— Brighton & Hove Albion ⚽️ (@OfficialBHAFC) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, news has only recently broken that Hudson-Odoi has also tested positive for the virus, and that the entire Chelsea squad is now in quarantine.
Breaking: Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi tests positive for #Coronavirus & entire Chelsea squad to a self-isolate— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 13, 2020
Now, according to the Times of London, the Premier League is set to reverse course and call off all of this weekend’s matches, despite hours ago claiming that there was “no medical rationale to close or cancel sporting events at this time.
The league was already under pressure from clubs to suspend matches due to the likely postponement of the Euro 2020 tournament for a year. Arsenal’s game away to Brighton and Hove Albion was called off last night and it now looks certain that no top-flight games will go ahead this weekend after the Premier League announced that it would hold an emergency meeting with clubs this morning.
—Times of London
The Premier League, FA, and EFL’s handling of this situation, taken (it was said) via the guidance of the UK government, is frankly shocking, but it appears that they’re ready to make the sensible decision and call off at least this weekend’s matches. Considering how swiftly news is developing, I don’t think it will take long before we’ll get another update about matches on future dates.
Again, this is unconfirmed at this time, but it appears that the Premier League will call an emergency meeting with its member clubs and decide a course of action that will likely involve canceling all of this weekend’s matches. As of now it means that Tottenham’s home match against Manchester United is very, very much up in the air.
We’ll keep you posted.