Boxing Day matches have been postponed as Covid cases causes havoc to the festive schedule, leaving many gutted at no Christmas footy fix.
The festive period is coming thick and fast for English football, however a major rise in cases is starting to wreak havoc with games this week getting called off.
Clubs are starting to report more positive tests and in some cases that is now having a impact on the amount of players available to take to the field on a matchday.
On Monday the 20th of December, top-flight managers and players were left angry with their clubs and the Premier League for rejecting a “festive firebreak” amid the upsurge in coronavirus cases which they believe will put safety at risk.
It had been hoped that the round of games scheduled to start on the 28th of December would be postponed to create space in the fixture list for recovery, with coaches having to rely on a smaller pool of players because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
But clubs, who have been warned restrictions may be necessary in January, rejected that idea and a suggestion to try to split the next two rounds of games over December 26/27 and 28-30 because they judged it to be unworkable.
Sources close to clubs admitted the Amazon broadcast package to show all games around Dec 28 had been identified as a concern.
Liverpool v Leeds – Sunday December 26
Wolves v Watford – Sunday December 26
Burnley v Everton – Sunday December 26
Leeds v Aston Villa – Tuesday December 28
Barnsley v Stoke City – Sunday December 26
Cardiff City v Coventry City – Sunday December 26
Fulham v Birmingham City – Sunday December 26
Hull v Blackburn – Sunday December 26
Luton Town v Bristol City – Sunday December 26
Millwall v Swansea City – Sunday December 26
Peterborough v Reading – Sunday December 26
Preston North End v Sheffield United – Sunday December 26
Swansea City v Luton Town – Wednesday December 29
West Brom v Preston – Thursday December 30
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton – Sunday December 26
Bolton Wanderers v Morecambe – Sunday December 26
Crewe Alexandra v Wigan Athletic – Sunday December 26
Gillingham v Ipswich Town – Sunday December 26
Portsmouth v Oxford United– Sunday December 26
Sheffield Wednesday v Burton Albion – Sunday December 26
Wycombe Wanderers v Cambridge United – Sunday December 26
Charlton v Gillingham – Wednesday December 29
Cambridge United v Doncaster Rovers – Thursday December 30
Bradford City v Harrogate Town – Sunday December 26
Bristol Rovers v Sutton United – Sunday December 26
Colchester v Leyton Orient – Sunday December 26
Exeter City v Swindon Town – Sunday December 26
Newport County v Forest Green Rovers – Sunday December 26
Northampton Town v Walsall – Sunday December 26
Port Vale v Salford City – Sunday December 26
Stevenage v Crawley Town – Sunday December 26
Forest Green v Exeter City – Wednesday December 29
Leyton Orient v Newport County – Wednesday December 29
Walsall v Bradford City – Wednesday December 29
FC Halifax Town v Grimsby Town – Sunday December 26
Barnet v Boreham Wood – Sunday December 26
Wealdstone v Maidenhead United – Sunday December 26
Weymouth v Eastleigh – Sunday December 26
Wrexham v Solihull Moors – Sunday December 26
Alfreton Town v Boston United – Sunday December 26
Brackley Town v Kettering Town – Sunday December 26
Bradford (Park Avenue) v York City – Sunday December 26
Farsley Celtic v Guiseley – Sunday December 26
Gateshead v Blyth Spartans – Sunday December 26
Kidderminster Harriers v Hereford – Sunday December 26
Dartford v Ebbsfleet United – Sunday December 26
Hampton & Richmond v Eastbourne Borough – Sunday December 26
Hemel Hempstead Town v St Albans City – Sunday December 26
Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet – Sunday December 26
PREMIER LEAGUE STATEMENT:
While recognising COVID-19 challenges, League’s collective intention is to continue current fixture schedule where safely possible
It was confirmed at a Premier League club meeting today that while recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges, it is the League’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.
The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.
A range of issues were discussed at this afternoon’s meeting, including the adaption of the Premier League COVID-19 postponement process in response to the impact of the Omicron variant.
The League also confirmed to its clubs today that 92 per cent of players and club staff have received one, two or three COVID-19 vaccination doses, with 84 per cent of players on the vaccination journey.
Players who have had one or two doses are required to wait for the appropriate time period before receiving either their second or booster vaccinations.
The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the Government’s public-health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public.
No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League, and player vaccination rates will now be publicly communicated at the end of each month, beginning in January.
The EFL can confirm that its programme of games in the League, Carabao Cup and Papa John’s Trophy will continue with fixtures to be played where it is safe to do so, and the set squad criteria can be fulfilled by Clubs.
While the League acknowledges there will likely be future postponements to navigate where Covid-19 cases are identified, there is optimism that disruption can be minimised following implementation of RED protocols, a daily testing regime and ongoing vaccination rollout.
Commenting, EFL Chief Executive Trevor Birch said:
“Throughout the pandemic, our two priorities have been ensuring the welfare of those involved in EFL competitions and ensuring the fixture schedule can continue where it is safe to do so.
“We will continue to work with clubs, authorities and other agencies to monitor the Covid-19 case rate and be prepared to respond accordingly, yet for now the view remains that we can continue to deliver games safely where clubs have sufficient healthy personnel in place, on and off the pitch.
“With club mitigation measures, the mass adoption of booster jabs and Covid certification now required for larger crowds, we are sure many fans will continue to feel confident in attending matches over the Christmas period and we look forward to welcoming them.”