There isn’t much of an update from yesterday’s news about an outbreak of COVID-19 at Tottenham Hotspur. The Evening Standard and others are now reporting that seven players and four members of Spurs’ staff have all had lateral flow tests return positive results, up one from the initial report on Monday.
Names of the players have not been released (and we won’t speculate here), but it’s a huge blow to Tottenham as they are scheduled to play two matches this week — a critical Europa Conference League group stage match against Rennes tomorrow and a trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. The Rennes match is likely to proceed as even without all seven positive returns Tottenham still have 13 fit players and fall within UEFA’s COVID guidelines for competitions.
The Brighton match is an open question. Matches have been postponed and rescheduled for outbreaks of a similar nature and scope at other clubs in the past year, but while Spurs can appeal to the Premier League board to postpone the match, the club has not yet made the decision to do so. Spurs are waiting on the return of PCR testing of the affected players to see if any of them come back negative, suggesting false positives. This is what happened with Son Heung-Min and Bryan Gil, both of whom tested positive on lateral flow tests back in October, but with PCR tests later coming back negative.
That said, seven players is a large number, and it seems extremely unlikely that all or even most of them would be false negatives. It’s much more likely that there is indeed an outbreak at Hotspur Way. Players that are confirmed positive would need to stay in isolation for ten days, meaning they would miss not only the Rennes and Brighton matches, but also next week’s midweek match against Leicester City.
It’s possible that we’ll get more context after Antonio Conte’s 2 pm UK (9 am ET) press conference today, which will take place on Zoom instead of in person.