Manchester City’s game at Everton on Monday has been postponed and the club’s training ground closed for an indeterminate period after a number of their players tested positive for Covid-19.
City requested the postponement on Monday morning when their latest round of testing revealed an increase in positive cases among the squad. The club had confirmed four positive tests on Christmas Day, including for Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, and a Premier League board meeting agreed to rearrange the Goodison Park fixture just hours before the kick-off.
The number of City staff to test positive has not been disclosed, although the league took medical advice before postponing a game that would have been attended by 2,000 Everton supporters.
Premier League guidelines that pre-date the pandemic state a fixture should proceed and requests for a postponement be rejected unless a club has fewer than 14 players available. Everton will ask the league for a full disclosure of why it agreed to postpone the game.
With players in quarantine and the training complex closed, City’s matches at Chelsea on Sunday and Manchester United next Wednesday in the Carabao Cup semi-final may also be in doubt.
A City statement read: “After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day. With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond. Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, has decided to postpone the fixture.
“All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK government protocol on quarantine. The first-team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume. Everyone at the club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition.”
Rochdale, Morecambe and Doncaster hit by Covid-19 cases
Rochdale, Morecambe announced that their next two games were postponed due to Covid-19, while Doncaster Rovers’ have called off their next three matches after a further three players tested positive, following two confirmed cases on Boxing Day. Five games were also unable to take place in the fifth-tier National League on Monday.
Doncaster were scheduled to play against Fleetwood Town (29 December), Peterborough United (2 January) and Oxford United (5 January). Rochdale’s next two League One games, at home to Crewe on Tuesday and Saturday’s visit of MK Dons, are now off with players and staff from the hosts forced to self-isolate. League Two Morecambe were due to play at Bolton on 29 December and away to Bradford on 2 January.
Morecambe football secretary and director Mick Horton said: “It is very disappointing that we have had to make this decision but the welfare of our players, staff and opponents remains the number one priority and, following detailed conversations with the relevant authorities, we have also decided to close our training ground for 10 days as well.”
National League games at Barnet, Boreham Wood, Chesterfield, Dagenham & Redbridge and Sutton were postponed on Monday after positive tests were returned at various clubs.
Rotherham’s Championship game with Barnsley on Tuesday will go ahead, but boss Paul Warne said the coronavirus-hit Millers are only fulfilling the fixture to avoid receiving a possible points deduction.
The Millers’ last two games have been called off after an outbreak of the virus in the camp before Christmas and they were keen for the south Yorkshire derby to go the same way, but EFL doctors have ruled it can be played.
That is despite three players still being in isolation, with a fourth waiting on a test result, and one only ending quarantine on the day of the game. PA Media
The Everton game is the second league fixture to be postponed owing to Covid-19, after Aston Villa v Newcastle this month, but despite the outbreak at City the league insists its protocols are being observed.
A statement read: “This rise has created uncertainty and the Premier League board received medical advice that the match should be postponed. The board agreed to rearrange the game as a precaution and further testing will now take place tomorrow. The decision has been taken with the health of players and staff the priority. The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them. The League wishes those with Covid-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Everton in due course.”
But Everton later said in a statement that they regretted the postponement and would be in touch with the Premier League. “Whilst Everton will always have public safety uppermost, we will be requesting full disclosure of all the information that Manchester City provided to the Premier League so the club can be clear on why this decision was taken.”
The Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhães, meanwhile, has tested positive for coronavirus, ruling the Brazilian out of their upcoming matches against Brighton and West Brom.