ulham’s match at Tottenham has been called off just over three hours before kick-off due to a coronavirus outbreak at the west London club.
It is the second Premier League match to be postponed due to Covid this week after Manchester City’s visit to Everton on Monday fell foul to an outbreak at the Etihad Stadium club.
Sheffield United’s game at Burnley on Monday went ahead, despite “a couple” of Blades players and “half a dozen” staff returning positive tests.
The final decision on Wednesday’s London derby was made by the Premier League board, with both clubs in the dark until the 2.40pm announcement.
Shortly after 2pm, Spurs manager Jose Mourinho took to Instagram to complain: “Match at 6 pm… We still don’t know if we play. Best league in the world.”
Fulham are understood to have returned a number of positive results for Covid-19 on Tuesday, with clubs in Tier 4 areas now required to test twice a week in an effort to halt growing numbers of infections across the country.
The Cottagers are thought to have received further positive test results on Wednesday, prompting the Premier League board to made the eleventh hour call to postpone the match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The Premier League announced 18 positive tests last week – the most since the testing programme began – with City, Arsenal and the Blades all confirming positive cases this week.
The latest postponement will increase pressure on the top flight for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’, although managers are in disagreement over the wisdom of halting the season.
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Clubs are set to discuss a fortnight ‘cooling off’ period, in which all matches would be postponed, and the measure earned the backing of West Brom boss Sam Allardyce following his side’s 5-0 defeat at Leeds on Tuesday.
“I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid,” said Allardyce. “I’m very concerned for myself and football in general. If that’s what needs to be done we need to do it.”
Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he “can’t see the benefit” of a circuit breaker, however, while the Premier League is not in favour of a break given the fixture backlog it would create.
Fulham manager Scott Parker missed his side’s goalless draw with Southampton on Boxing Day after a member of his household tested positive for coronavirus but tested negative on Sunday, ensuring he was able to return to the training ground at the start of this week following a period of self-isolation.