Premier League and EFL clubs to fulfil Christmas and New Year fixtures

Premier League and EFL clubs have decided to fulfil Christmas and New year fixtures amid the ongoing Covid-19 disruption, despite a plethora of players and club staff testing positive.

It had been expected the Premier League’s gameweek 20, starting on December 28, would be postponed in order to ease the pressure on Premier League squads.

The Premier League’s 20 clubs met to discuss the fixture list after six weekend games were postponed on December 18.

No vote took place and so two rounds of fixtures are in place across five days from December 26, while the EFL will play games.

Clubs have been advised if they have 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper, they should fulfil fixtures.

FA Cup replays in rounds three and four have been scrapped with talks ongoing on whether to reduce EFL Cup semi-final ties to one-leg matches.

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The Premier League confirmed there had been 90 new positive cases from 12,345 tests on players and staff between December 13-19, more than double the previous week’s 42 cases, which was a record since the pandemic began.

Premier League figures showed 77% of players have had two vaccination jabs, on December 20, a rise from 68% in October.

84% of players have had at least one vaccination. If staff are included in the analysis the figure rises to 92%.

The Premier League said the meeting saw a range of issues discussed, including adapting the Covid-19 postponement process.

It is understood Liverpool were among a group of clubs who pushed for the postponement of gameweek 20.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said playing on 26 and 28 December was not feasible.

“It’s impossible, we don’t have the players,” said Klopp.

“We have to think we will get an extra case or two. We cannot just push it all through. The 26th and 28th, that’s not possible. We would prefer to play but we need help with the fixtures,” added Klopp.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “We will continue to work with clubs, authorities and other agencies to monitor the Covid-19 case rate and be prepared to respond accordingly.

“For now the view remains that we can continue to deliver games safely, where clubs have sufficient healthy personnel in place, on and off the pitch.

“With club mitigation measures, the mass adoption of booster jabs and Covid certification now required for larger crowds, we are sure many fans will continue to feel confident in attending matches over the Christmas period and we look forward to welcoming them.”

Artmotion Spain

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