The EFL (English Football League) remains confident it can cope with the growing number of matches that have to be postponed due to cases of coronavirus.
At least six clubs in the Championship, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have suffered outbreaks of Covid-19 and a series of Christmas matches have been called off.
Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has revealed that 13 of his players have tested positive for the virus with the club’s clash with Accrington originally scheduled for December 29, now postponed.
Meanwhile, Rochdale’s next two Ligue 1 matches against Crewe and MK Dons have also been put on hold, with the club informing the EFL that they cannot fill the matches due to “Premier League players and staff. team. [being] must self-isolate according to EFL and government guidelines. “
In total across the three divisions, eight Boxing Day games have been postponed and seven games have been called off so far on December 29.
The league schedule allows for multiple postponements and it is understood that there is currently enough flexibility to ensure that all games can be rearranged.
However, if the situation worsens – and other fixtures succumb to bad weather – the league schedule may be unable to cope.
Despite this, the EFL does not plan to introduce more regular mandatory Covid tests.
The League maintains that the protocols currently in place negate this need. Bi-weekly testing would also cost each club around £ 10,000 per week.
At this time, testing is only required if a player develops symptoms, returns from an international break, or spends an extended period away from the training ground.
EFL recently wrote to clubs asking them to make sure they redouble their efforts to adhere to Covid protocols. Clubs have been told to minimize the time playing and non-playing staff spend indoors – which includes the use of gyms, locker rooms and catering.
They were also advised to use individual cars rather than buses and to limit social contact outside of their bubbles.
The next round of league-wide testing will take place in the week of January 4th.
Games of December 29 closed
Millwall vs. Watford
AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich Town
Bristol Rovers vs. Portsmouth
Hull City vs. Lincoln City
Peterborough United vs. Charlton Athletic
Rochdale vs. Crewe
Sunderland vs. Accrington