Burnley-Everton join list of Premier League games postponed by Covid-19
Burnley’s home game against Everton on December 26 became the last Premier League game to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak, it was announced on Friday.
The cases of Covid-19 within the Everton camp had seen the Merseysiders request a postponement on Thursday.
But that initial plea was dismissed despite Everton manager Rafael Benitez saying he only had nine fit outfielders at his disposal for the Boxing Day game, traditionally one busiest days on the English football calendar.
Everton, however, said on Friday the game had been called off, with a club statement saying: “Our Premier League game at Burnley on Boxing Day has been postponed due to the number of COVID cases and injuries in our squad . ”
The Premier League added that it had taken the “regrettable” decision to postpone the game following a board meeting on Friday.
“The board today considered the club’s request to postpone the game following further injuries to their team.
“They concluded that the club will not be able to complete their game this weekend due to an insufficient number of players available to play due to cases of Covid-19 and injuries.”
A total of 13 games have now been called off in the past two weeks as Britain battles a record number of positive Covid cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus.
Benitez said on Thursday he was “surprised” that Everton’s game is expected, after two more Boxing Day games – Liverpool against Leeds and Wolves against Watford – were postponed due to cases of Covid.
‘Talk to a wall’
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said Thursday’s meeting between the Premier League and the top 20 bosses to discuss the escalating Covid situation affecting England’s footballing elite was a loss of time.
The virtual meeting was designed to allow managers to voice concerns over a crowded fixture list after Premier League clubs decide to continue with the planned schedule rather than suspend the season.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has suggested that the only way football authorities can address welfare concerns is for players to go on strike.
But with industrial action looking highly unlikely, Conte said talks with the Premier League were akin to a conversation with a wall.
“If I’m to be honest, it was a meeting that we tried to talk about and some coaches tried to talk about, to ask for solutions but I think it was all decided,” Conte said on Friday.
“I think yesterday (Thursday) it was a wall and for that reason I also prefer not to enter it.”
The Italian, who was asked at a press conference if the talks had been a waste of time, replied: “I think so. Because when you have a wall in front of you, you can talk and ask whatever you want, but every decision has been (already) made.
Spurs, who have just returned from a forced two-week break due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, are due to host Crystal Palace on Sunday before traveling to Southampton on Tuesday.
Norwich manager Dean Smith said it was “crazy” to expect sides to play two games in 48 hours under the current circumstances with the relegation-threatened Canaries due to host Arsenal on Sunday ahead of ‘face Crystal Palace on December 28.
“We have new cases, but we have more coming back,” Smith said. We don’t know how many will miss Boxing Day.
“It is madness that we have to play two games in 48 hours and there has to be a question about the integrity of the competition when teams face weakened teams against other teams and it affects the league positions. . “