Arsenal fans show their COVID-19 passes as part of the matchday protocols outside the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Emergency measures were already put into place last week for fans attending games and testing has been ramped up for players and staff.
But what is the next step for clubs across the country when it comes to postponements and fans being able to attend games?
Leicester City vs Tottenham and Saturday’s meeting between Brighton and Manchester United have been the latest matches to fall foul of outbreaks. This follows on from the Burnley vs Watford clash suffering the same fate on Wednesday night after the visitors were hit by the virus.
NationalWorld understands there are no set deadlines on when games can be postponed and the process regarding cancellations is very much a case by case basis.
The Premier League has since told the Press Association that it aims to 'continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible'.
How teams apply for a postponement
Whilst guidelines state that each team needs ‘14 fit players’ to take the field, there is much more nuance at play when it comes to whether matches are suspended. An example of this would be if one team is unbalanced proportionally in regards to players out of action in a specific position due to Covid. In theory a team could have more than the ‘14 fit players’ available but still request and receive a green light on a postponement.
This brings us to the next point that it’s the responsibility of clubs to contact the Premier League to ask for a game to be abandoned.
Once a request is made, the league would seek to get all the evidence from the club and come to a decision, with each team having a designated Covid officer to communicate with the Premier League.Appendix 17 in the Premier League handbook states on postponements: “Following the issue of an Implementation Notice, the Board will only permit the rearrangement of postponement of a League Match in exceptional circumstances, which will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
“However, by way of guidance to clubs, permission will not be granted to postpone a League Match where the applicant Club has 14 or more Players listed on its Squad list available.”
Brighton asked for their defeat to Wolves to be postponed on Wednesday and manager Graham Potter reacted to the decision by making claims about the current campaign and how long the league can continue as it is.
“We asked the question, yes, because of our situation,” Potter told the BBC: “It is what it is. All you can do is put your case forward, speak to people and they make the decision.
“I think the path we’re on, I’m not sure how long we can stay on it for. We all want football to continue, want life to continue as best as we can but health is the most important thing.
“We’ve got some issues ourselves and this week has been a little bit disturbing in terms of how quickly we’ve been affected. If that carries on then we’ll have to have some serious thought [about action being suspended].”
Next potential steps for fans
Meanwhile, the current guidance for fans attending matches has been updated and reads as follows: “You will need to register online to confirm that you have a valid NHS COVID Pass or test result from the previous 48 hours, and that you do not have any COVID-type symptoms.
“Please visit your club’s website to follow the simple instructions for pre-match registration and do this prior to the day of the match.
“It will be mandatory for all fans to have and be able to show their valid NHS COVID Pass or NHS COVID test result when asked.
“All clubs will be conducting checks. If you intend to show the NHS COVID Pass on your smartphone, it is recommended to save it “offline” by downloading it as a PDF or saving it in your Apple or Google Wallet.”
The Premier League are very much guided by the UK Government regarding any next potential restrictions on how many fans will be able to attend games if more measures are put into place.
For now the aforementioned emergency measures will be in place for this week and the weekend but this will be subject to change as Omicron takes hold across the country.