Football: EPL insists season will go on despite Fulham's virus woes, Spurs slam stars for rule breach

Southampton's Theo Walcott fights for the ball with Fulham's Harrison Reed in London on Dec 26, 2020.
Southampton's Theo Walcott fights for the ball with Fulham's Harrison Reed in London on Dec 26, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Premier League chiefs insist the season will go on despite Fulham's clash with Burnley on Sunday (Jan 3) becoming the latest victim of the coronavirus.

Fulham announced on Saturday that their showdown with relegation rivals Burnley was off following further positive tests among Scott Parker's squad.

The Cottagers' match against Tottenham was also called off in midweek due to the Covid-19 problems at the west London club.

"Following further new positive results returned from the most recent Covid-19 tests, the club can confirm that this Sunday's away fixture at Burnley has been postponed after discussions with the Premier League and advice from medical teams," a Fulham statement read.

"Those who tested positive are self-isolating in line with UK government and Premier League guidance.

"The welfare of our players, staff and their families continues to be of paramount importance and we wish those who have tested positive a safe and speedy recovery."

Tottenham, meanwhile, have condemned Erik Lamela, Sergio Reguilon and Giovani lo Celso for breaking coronavirus protocols after the trio were spotted at a large party.

The trio were pictured at the gathering over the Christmas period. West Ham's Manuel Lanzini was also in attendance, breaching strict tier four guidelines that prohibit mixing with other people indoors due to Covid-19.

The photo was circulated on social media and Tottenham are set to take disciplinary action after issuing an angry rebuke about the players' behaviour.

Lamela was not named in the squad for Saturday's Premier League clash against Leeds, with Reguilon on the bench, while lo Celso is out injured.

The Spurs statement said: "The rules are clear, there are no exceptions, and we regularly remind all our players and staff about the latest protocols and their responsibilities to adhere and set an example.

"The matter will be dealt with internally."

This is not the first time Tottenham players have broken lockdown rules as there were several incidents during the first lockdown in the spring.

Jose Mourinho was seen holding a personal training session with Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez were seen out running together.

Serge Aurier was a repeat offender, having a haircut and a personal training session with Moussa Sissoko.

West Ham also reminded Lanzini of his responsibilities. A spokesman said: "The club has set the highest possible standards with its protocols and measures relating to Covid-19 so we are disappointed to learn of Manuel Lanzini's actions.

"The matter has been dealt with internally and Manuel has been strongly reminded of his responsibilities."

With Newcastle's game against Aston Villa and Everton's meeting with Manchester City also postponed due to virus outbreaks recently, there have been calls for a "circuit break" period, which would see all matches halted to allow the virus to be contained.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce was especially vocal in his demand for a pause.

But the Premier League's stance remains that continuing with the season as planned is the right option.

"With the health of players and staff the priority, the league and Fulham will agree on a further action plan to control the outbreak to allow the club to resume their season safely. Players and staff will now be retested as part of a revised testing schedule," a Premier League statement said.

"With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the league continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols, fully backed by the government, to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled.

"The league wishes those with Covid-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange Fulham's two postponed games as soon as possible."