The sudden rise in COVID-19 positive cases brought on by the burgeoning omicron variant wave in the UK has resulted in numerous outbreaks not only within Premier League clubs, but across the country and now the world. Tottenham Hotspur were the first club to experience a major outbreak, but were hardly the last — six of the ten matches scheduled for this past round were postponed due to COVID outbreaks within the clubs involved.
As this article is being written, representatives from the 20 Premier League clubs are currently meeting to discuss potentially implementing a “circuit breaker” pause in matches during the upcoming holiday fixture period in order to try and help flatten the curve and prevent the omicron variant from spreading.
The proposal, first reported by The Athletic (£) is to postpone the matches that were originally scheduled for December 28-29 and play them later in the season in order to give clubs a chance to recuperate. Those matches represent an entire round of fixtures, but would still allow the traditional Boxing Day matches to be played.
That’s likely not going to be the only point (or subpoint) discussed, with clubs likely to want clarification from the Premier League on protocols for how and when matches are postponed for COVID-19 outbreaks. Chelsea, for example, appealed to the league to have its match against Wolves postponed after a series of positive tests, but were denied — they drew 0-0 at Molineux while fielding a weakened squad. Both Spurs and Liverpool played yesterday without their first choice midfields and with other players either out or on the bench due to recent COVID positives.
There are also questions as to whether a “circuit breaker” pause will have any dramatic effect on match postponements with the omicron variant raging, or how the league will deal with having to find a way to make up all these matches before the theoretical end of Week 38 on May 22.
We’ll find out in short order.