EXCLUSIVE: As many as 50 Premier League players are facing the prospect of missing fixtures for their clubs after next month’s batch of international fixtures
Premier League clubs are desperately lobbying the Government as they look to avoid losing their stars to quarantine after September’s international break.
As many as 50 top-flight players could be forced into a 10-day hotel quarantine upon returning from red-listed countries next month. In some cases, that would mean missing out on two Premier League fixtures following their return.
And clubs taking part in European competition stand to be hit even harder, with the start of their Champions League and Europa League campaigns sandwiched between those two league games.
The news is of particular concern to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who would lose his only recognised senior striker Gabriel Jesus after he was named in the Brazil squad alongside Fernandinho and Ederson.
The Premier League champions’ title rivals Liverpool will suffer, too, with Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho also part of that Brazil squad and Mohamed Salah in line to travel to red-listed Egypt.
And the issues are not just confined to the league’s usual big-hitters, either, with Aston Villa summer signing Leon Bailey, Southampton forward Moussa Djenepo and Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew among those who will fall foul of quarantine regulations.
Last season, rules dictating that players must be released when called upon by national teams for FIFA-sanctioned competitions were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
In cases where local guidelines meant a lengthy quarantine period would follow, clubs were instead given licence to retain their stars – a move that resulted in the postponement of a number of World Cup qualifying games.
However, the amendment was scrapped in April, ahead of a summer that featured the rescheduled staging of both the Euros and Copa America.
And global football’s governing body expect all call-ups to be honoured this season as international sides look to clear a fixture backlog. That has left Premier League clubs seeking an intervention from the Government ahead of the upcoming international break.
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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are locked in talks with top-flight chiefs and the FA in order to try and find a solution.
Premier League clubs have argued that the sanctity of competition would be affected by the loss of key players to
quarantine for as many as two matches.
And they are hopeful of securing an exemption that would recognise the fact that players are simply moving between elite sporting bubbles.
That would allow them to avoid any quarantine upon returning to the UK providing they return a negative Covid test.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Government are willing to allow an exemption amid the ongoing controversy over travel rules.
Many UK tourists have been left out of pocket after being forced to travel home early when their holiday destination was added to the red list at short notice.
As such, special dispensation for Premier League stars is unlikely to be well received.