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Premier League must ‘rethink rules on postponing COVID delay after this weekend’s games’

The Premier League is set to reconsider its game postponement rules after a number of controversial decisions to cancel games in recent weeks.

Reports suggest a Premier League meeting will be called with all 20 top clubs after the next round of matches to discuss possible rule changes.

According to The Athletic, the Premier League hopes the two-and-a-half week break will give clubs enough time to master any changes to the rules.

A statement from the league on Wednesday said: “The Premier League is in consultation with our clubs about the rules and guidelines for delaying COVID-19 in light of the changing national picture and declining number of cases within our squads.

“The competition’s current guidelines were changed in December following the emergence of the new Omicron variant and we will continue to monitor the ongoing effects of the virus and will update our guidelines accordingly.”

Premier League chief Richard Masters reportedly reconsidering postponement rules

Premier League chief Richard Masters reportedly reconsidering postponement rules

A total of 21 matches have been postponed, raising questions about the integrity of the competition

A total of 21 matches have been postponed, raising questions about the integrity of the competition

A total of 21 matches have been postponed, raising questions about the integrity of the competition

The Premier League has been heavily criticized in recent weeks after some teams postponed matches due to Covid cases, injuries, suspensions and absences due to the Africa Cup of Nations.

A total of 21 matches have been postponed, raising questions about the integrity of the competition.

The most recent was Sunday’s derby in north London, which was controversially canceled after Arsenal were unable to field a team for the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sunday's derby in north London between Tottenham and Arsenal has been controversially postponed

Sunday's derby in north London between Tottenham and Arsenal has been controversially postponed

Sunday’s derby in north London between Tottenham and Arsenal has been controversially postponed

Current rules require a match to be postponed if one of the teams is unable to bring 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper onto the field, provided it is ‘either from the roster of its suitably experienced Under-21 players’.

Under Premier League rules, as detailed on their website, clubs must provide the following when requesting a match postponement:

  • Players and staff who have returned a positive COVID-19 test, their vaccination status and, if known, the source of their infections
  • Players and staff self-isolating
  • Players unable to play due to injury or illness
  • Players who are on the club’s squad list and still available to take part in the match, including experienced players under 21 (including players under 21 who have played for the club, another Premier League or EFL club or a foreign club in The current season A player under 21 who takes part in a club’s FA Cup round three match and has not played in other first-team competitions for the club this season is considered by the council not considered experienced enough)
  • Supportive medical information to verify the status of any unavailable player, which will be reviewed by the League’s medical advisors

Arsenal, which had at least a dozen players unavailable due to positive Covid cases, injuries, suspension and international commitments, had accepted the request for a postponement.

This led Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to call on the Premier League to do so, with Neville claiming that the lack of transparency around Premier League clubs asking for matches to be postponed suggested many were now doing so for reasons other than the pandemic. , which is not allowed.

Gary Neville denounced Premier League's decision to postpone North London derby

Gary Neville denounced Premier League's decision to postpone North London derby

Gary Neville denounced Premier League’s decision to postpone North London derby

Game off (Tottenham-Arsenal). What started as a postponement due to a pandemic has now grown into clubs that don’t have their best team,” Neville tweeted.

“The Premier League has to stop this now, draw a line in the sand and say all matches will go ahead unless you have an exceptional number of CV (Covid) cases. It’s wrong.’

Neville added: “I sincerely believe that all teams, not just in the Premier League but now in the EFL, should be made to play their matches.

“Balogun has been loaned, Maitland-Niles has been loaned, Xhaka has been shown a red card, no one else’s fault. We can’t cancel the fixtures.’

“If it was purely due to Covid in extraordinary circumstances and there were 10 or 15 players gone,” he added.

Mo Salah (right) and a host of Premier League players play at the Africa Cup of Nations

Mo Salah (right) and a host of Premier League players play at the Africa Cup of Nations

Mo Salah (right) and a host of Premier League players play at the Africa Cup of Nations

“But we are now talking about teams from the past few weeks where there is no doubt that they have canceled games based on whether they think they have the best squad or the best team to win a game. It must stop.’

Neville insisted he did not name Arsenal as the only culprits, but believed their request should be rejected ahead of the North London derby.

“And I have to say that’s not a dig at Arsenal,” he said. “I should have spoken three or four weeks ago. Manchester United and other teams have 30 or 40 players in their roster, I don’t think they can get 14, 15, 16 players together.

“And so for me it has to be rejected. Without knowing the exact details, unless there is an absolute load of Covid cases coming in at Arsenal today, I have a feeling that I played in Liverpool last night and played fantastically well by the way, that it has to stop now. They have to let teams play.’

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka can now play in the North London derby after serving his suspension

However, Ian Wright disagrees with Neville’s previous stance on the matter, suggesting the ex-Manchester United player was more concerned about Super Sunday passing for his employers Sky Sports than fans.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte claimed the postponement crisis has left the season in shambles and says he has never worked in a league that has wanted to cancel games due to injuries.

Conte was also dealt a blow in the Premier League for inflicting ‘major damage’ on Tottenham over their initial refusal to move their trip to Leicester – originally scheduled for December 16 – which ultimately resulted in his club being expelled from Europe.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte claimed the postponement crisis has left the season in shambles

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte claimed the postponement crisis has left the season in shambles

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte claimed the postponement crisis has left the season in shambles

Conte said, “It’s a mess now. There may only be one team or maybe two that have played all their league games – City and maybe West Ham.”

Chelsea have also played all their games, but he continued: ‘The others have played 18. Burnley 17. Then they postponed the game against Watford. It sure is a big mess.’

Speaking of Arsenal’s decision, which he called ‘strange’, Conte added: ‘This is the first time in my life that there has been a league that has postponed the game due to injuries. You have to learn to laugh, you have to laugh, because they completely changed the vision.’

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta reacted defiantly to criticism of the club’s request for a postponement against rivals Spurs – insisting his side lacked the players to compete.

Arteta furiously hit back in a firm defense of the club, saying “lies” had been spread and insisting the postponement was “for the right reasons”.

Mikel Arteta hit back at the 'lies' surrounding the club's decision to postpone their clash with Spurs

Mikel Arteta hit back at the 'lies' surrounding the club's decision to postpone their clash with Spurs

Mikel Arteta hit back at the ‘lies’ surrounding the club’s decision to postpone their clash with Spurs

Arteta said the club did the right thing and promised to defend it against those who tried to 'damage' it

Arteta said the club did the right thing and promised to defend it against those who tried to 'damage' it

Arteta said the club did the right thing and promised to defend it against those who tried to ‘damage’ it

“We will defend our club with teeth and nails,” he told Liverpool ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final. “We’re not going to get anyone to harm our name or try to spread lies.

“We didn’t have the players needed to play a game in the Premier League. That’s 100 percent. We postponed the game for all the right reasons.”

Speaking of the negative response to Arsenal this week, he added: “I think there is more than hate there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it has always acted and how it has always behaved .

“We know we did the right thing. We have worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. In any case, we have been very honest.’

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