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20th Dec 2021

Premier League clubs reject the idea of cancelling a round of Christmas fixtures

Daniel Brown

Clubs met with the Premier League on Monday to discuss the current situation

Premier League clubs have reportedly rejected the idea of postponing a round of Christmas fixtures, despite a number of clubs having had their matches cancelled due to Covid.

Representatives from all of the league’s 20 clubs met with the Premier League on Monday to discuss the ongoing threat of the Omicron variant and how the league plans to move forward.

One of the options that is thought to have been discussed is a ‘festive firebreak’, which could see a short pause to the season by postponing a round of fixtures from December 28 to 30.

This weekend saw six of the 10 scheduled Premier League fixtures postponed due to Covid, with a total of 10 top-flight matches now cancelled because of the virus.

Despite this, the Daily Mail report that, despite some managers supporting the prospect of a break, the majority of clubs want to continue playing and have backed the league’s current position to reject the idea.

It adds that the plan is to continue playing and ‘battle through’ the season without an enforced break.

In order for a break to be passed through and put into force, it would have needed the support of at least 14 of the 20 top flight sides.

At the meeting, clubs were also informed that the FA have agreed to scrap replays for FA Cup rounds three and four.

Current league rules – specifically Appendix 17 of the Premier League’s handbook – state that clubs will be expected to play if they have 14 players or more available.

Clubs are expected to use all players for selection, including U21s and those who have experience of playing in the Premier League or the EFL, and that no postponements would be permitted where 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper from the squad list are available.

Medical opinion and advise will be considered when deciding whether to call a match off due to an outbreak, where it will then be decided if it is uncontrollable and could quickly spread to other players and staff.

After much confusion around the exact details on Covid postponements, the rules and details were outlined at the meeting on Monday.

Those present on the call were also told that should they deem a player unavailable due to injury, the league’s chief medical officer could investigate the situation.

Should less than 14 players be available, an ‘appropriately experienced under 21’ player will be classed as any under 21 player who has ‘started a first team match in the current or preceding season for their current club, previous EFL club or any overseas club in first team competition’.

In regard to the use of an under 21 goalkeeper, the shot-stopper will need to have been named on the team sheet for five or more matches in the preceding 12 months.

Premier League clubs were also told that the board will not consider what they have deemed ‘subjective factors’ – for example, the quality or experience of unavailable players in comparison to the opposition’s available players.

Away games was another aspect discussed on the meeting, with visiting sides having to take as many available players to a game as possible, with Premier League matches taking priority over other, non-first team competitions.

If an Under 21 player has played in another such competition, they will still be deemed available for selection.

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