EFL bosses are facing growing fears of a shutdown after a remarkable surge in Covid cases.
The EFL have revealed a staggering 112 positive cases from the latest round of testing with the majority from League One and Two with the pandemic causing chaos as it sweeps through football.
Dozens of games have had to be called off and there are worries that the bottom two divisions will struggle to cope and the season could be halted again.
The Premier League has written to all of its clubs with a stern reminder to enforce strict protocols while the FA Cup is facing a chaotic third round weekend with postponements and Covid outbreaks.
But the immediate fear is in the EFL and, while they say they are “confident” the season can continue, their medical advisers Dr Richard Higgins and Dr Subhashis Basu issued a joint statement admitting the new variant of the virus is causing the surge.
They said: “The results reflect the current speed at which the virus is spreading amid the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19.”
Many Championship clubs have been testing throughout the last nine months while the whole EFL will switch to twice-weekly testing from next week which is partly paid for by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
The Premier League is also facing chaos and bosses have written to clubs to reinforce the protocols with a feeling that players may have become complacent.
The three areas of concern are match day protocols, training and also travel to games but there is an acceptance that, despite warnings of punishments for players who break the rules with parties and gatherings, there is little they can do and it is down to the clubs to issue fines or bans.
Prem bosses have reminded clubs they must use three team coaches rather than two to travel to away games, face masks must be used at all times around the training ground other than when they actually train and numbers must be strictly limited.
The compliance officers can carry out spot checks in dressing rooms and in the canteens while substitutes will also have to wear face masks while sat in the stands during games.
Prem bosses are adamant they will be able to carry on but there is a feeling that outbreaks will sweep through clubs like Aston Villa have suffered this week, they will then come out of the other side and it could even carry on in a cycle but there is a confidence they will finish the season.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled the end of academy football with his announcement at the start of the week as only “elite sport” can continue but non-league could be declared null and void.
Clubs of the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern League have been balloted by the FA but their respective boards have advised them to vote for immediate closure.
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