Liverpool ordered extra round of PCR tests after negative LFTs ahead of Arsenal cup tie
The extra tests were discounted due to an error in the testing process
Liverpool ordered an additional round of covid-19 testing after players returned negative lateral flow tests ahead of their EFL Cup tie against Arsenal, but requested the postponement of the fixture before knowing the results, The Athletic are reporting.
Controversy arose when, a few days after the Arsenal tie was meant to be played, Liverpool beat Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, and Jurgen Klopp claimed the squad had returned a number of 'false positives' that led to the Arsenal game being called off.
It has since been revealed that the supposed false positives were actually 'a round of results discounted because of errors in the testing process.'
Having suffered a covid outbreak at the club that affected 40 people including backroom staff, Liverpool took the decision to send players for a precautionary round of PCR tests, unconvinced by the accuracy of negative LFTs, using a lab called BioGrad to do so.
BioGrad was chosen because of its ability to turn results around in as few as four hours, compared to the 24 hours it usually takes to get results from Prenetics, the lab used by the Premier League.
However, the club requested the postponement of the Arsenal tie before knowing the results of these PCR tests.
Positive results came back for 13 players, but the tests were discounted due to an error in the process. Neither Liverpool nor the EFL, however, were proactive in making this information known publicly.
The Athletic's report explains that "it is clear that Liverpool had no motive to get the game called off", and were simply protecting their squad from a second outbreak by taking extra caution.
The confusion and controversy came about from Klopp's use of the term 'false positive', which alerted the EFL into thinking they might have to investigate the situation.
The paranoia around Covid cases at the club began after their 2-2 draw with Chelsea, when players spent at least an hour in a cramped changing room after a member of the travelling party had registered a positive lateral flow test.
A player testing positive the following day triggered anxiety about the possibility of another big outbreak, with Klopp already in isolation after testing positive on New Year's Day.
All this culminated in the club ordering the extra round of testing as a precaution, believing it was also in Arsenal's interests to take every step in preventing any possible spreading of the virus.
Technically, the match could have been played as the extra round of testing was not required by the EFL. Liverpool were simply taking more caution than authorities demand in the rules to protect their own players and their opponents.
The first leg of the EFL Cup tie was eventually played a week later on January 13, with the second leg taking place later today (Thursday January 20).