The Premier League officially postponed today’s match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur — a 180º flip on their position yesterday when they had rejected calls from both clubs to call off the match. They have now posted their rationale for changing their minds in a statement posted on the Premier League’s website, and have stated that the decision was made due to increased numbers of COVID-19 positive tests within Leicester’s squad.
The #PL Board has postponed Leicester's match against Spurs tonight due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases within @LCFC's squad today— Premier League (@premierleague) December 16, 2021
More: https://t.co/MhU4NqImbu#LEITOT pic.twitter.com/vArlpwkmAW
Here’s the full text of the statement.
The Premier League Board has postponed Leicester City’s match against Tottenham Hotspur tonight due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases within Leicester’s squad today.
In light of the new information, Leicester applied this morning for the fixture to be called off due to an ongoing outbreak within the squad, which has resulted in more players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 today.
This has left the club with an insufficient number of players available to fulfil the match.
Following consultation with the Premier League and UK Health Security Agency, the club’s first-team training ground was closed this morning to help contain the outbreak.
The Premier League understands this decision will disappoint and frustrate fans who were due to attend this evening’s match and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused at such short notice.
The Board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and COVID-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs.
It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match.
The Board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club may come into contact with.
With the health and wellbeing of all players and staff the priority, and in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Premier League has reintroduced Emergency Measures.
These include protocols such as more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time.
— Statement, Premier League
You’re probably going to see a bunch of bantery takes about this decision, the timing of it, and how this somehow was done at Tottenham’s expense online and on social media, especially since Spurs had already traveled and were willing to play the match today. Don’t listen to any of them. They don’t matter and aren’t important. What IS important is that the Premier League is correct that this match needed to be postponed. Probably all of the Premier League needs to be paused for a while as more and more clubs deal with Omicron-related outbreaks within their ranks. And that’s not even taking into account the general public within the UK, which has seen a huge spike in cases as this new wave develops.
That’s not to say that the Premier League can’t be criticized for how they have handled the coronavirus pandemic in general — they absolutely can. The fact that they initially rejected requests from both clubs to postpone just two days ago screams that they have no plan and are flying by the seat of their pants. That’s an incredible thing to say about a COVID-19 policy for a major sports league almost two years into a global pandemic. But the health and safety of players and fans are of significantly more importance in the grand scheme of things. They got the decision correct today, even if it took them a lot longer to come to it than I or others would’ve liked.
Now we need to wait to see what the broader implications are for not only Tottenham, but the entire league, and possibly the sport in general.