Two unnamed Oxford United players have been suspended and could face the sack over allegations the pair attended a New Year’s Eve party.
The U’s, who currently sit 12th in the League One table, are investigating the breach of Covid protocols by the youngsters, one of whom plays for the Under 21s and the other for the Under 18s.
There was reports claiming that senior figures at the club initially wanted the pair to be sacked, however that is apparently wide of the mark.
A club spokesman told The Athletic that a decision on the players’ futures will be taken as soon as possible.
The usually reliable The Athletic claimed if the pair were sacked, they would become the first British professional footballers to lose their jobs for breaching Covid rules.
A statement issued said: “Oxford United can confirm reports that two academy players are currently suspended while the club gathers all of the facts regarding an alleged breach of covid protocols.
“While the investigation is ongoing there will be no further comment from the club.”
Neither player is understood to have been close to the senior players since the alleged incident and that has shown as the squad tested negative.
Head coach Karl Robinson is confident his side wouldn’t have to postpone fixtures in the event of positive results, due to the U’s social distancing protocols.
It came after he told BBC Radio 4 last week that some clubs had become ‘sloppy’ when it came to following Covid rules and called for spot-checks to be stepped up.
‘We all have to tighten up and I think the spot-checks need to happen more regularly,’ he told the Today programme.
‘I don’t think they (the postponements) are through us all doing the right things.
‘I think there’s certain aspects of our football clubs that may be getting a little bit sloppy.
‘I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but I think there are certain clubs that are doing things slightly wrong.
‘I think there’s some clubs using gyms inside with too many players and how we change and travel to training.’
In December, @OUFCOfficial flowed through six unbeaten games 🗓️
Winning the last three to collect 12 points, with four clean sheets in the month 🚫
— Sky Bet (@SkyBet) January 6, 2021
There have been 23 League One games called off due to coronavirus in the last three weeks, including United’s home game against Doncaster Rovers that had been scheduled for this week.
Oxford have seen five games called off so far this season after positive tests were returned among their opponents.
It comes as Luka Milivojevic captained Crystal Palace in their 2-0 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday despite reports he attended a New Year’s Eve with Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Spurs trio Erik Lamela, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini were pictured together at another celebration, while Manchester City are investigating reports that Benjamin Mendy hosted a loud and raucous party only three days after City were forced to cancel their game against Everton at late notice because of an outbreak at the club.
That game was one of three the Premier League has been forced to postpone because of COVID-19 in a week, with Fulham’s games against Spurs and Burnley also being cancelled.
Fans reacted as two Oxford United players have been suspended with claims they could face the sack…
Looks like the first professional football club to take the rules seriously then..
— Ashley Hall (@oxajh) January 4, 2021
@Born_yellow: Notice the difference between Oxford and the premier league teams that are too scared to criticise the own players.
@rosspb: Should sack them, would send a clear message around the game!
@Vickyplum1: Deduct points and award them to Crewe, makes perfect sense
@CJAFCB: Time these footballers get jailed for a week or two. Seems to be the only measure they might respect and finally get the message.
@killochglen: For me, any player breaking the rules in such a flagrant way should be sacked. It is not a misjudgement. It is not youthful inexperience. It is a premeditated, deliberate and reckless act. No excuses. They thought it was worth the risk. Show them it isn’t.
@GrantOfCrewe: Deduct them points. And relegate the bastards
@vaughanieno10: Yet Man City, Spurs & West Ham 1st teamers get away with it scott free…wreeks of double standards that…
@MikeyLUFCALAW: Are clubs going to do this when they have spent £50m on a player?
@TerryCoburn: Not really setting a legal precedent. They have broken the law which is a common clause in employment contracts that allow for dismissal.
@DMars82: I don’t think either should be sacked. But we all know it comes down to how good they are
@TheSecretScout_: Wouldn’t happen if it’s a key first team player for them…
@c_ellis92: Should also deduct points. This does feel harsh but Spurs and City etc… should be fined and deducted points. Fans will soon uproar and they’d soon realise not to do it again I’m sure…
@tomvickers88: Wouldn’t happen to one of the first team players so why try and make a stance against a youth ?
@youthhawk: While loath to excuse anyone for breaking rules that have generally been in place for over nine months now, it’s always good to know that football’s morality is applied equally to impressionable kids as it is to millionaire internationals…
@tom7p: A football club with a sense of responsibility:
@edgyt10: I’m 43 my new year wouldn’t have been much different regardless of restrictions. I’m not condoning their actions but these are young kids constantly being told to not enjoy themselves. Fine then ffs don’t sack them