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No Covid suspension for Premier League – reports

Premier League clubs have decided against any suspension of the season as a means of bringing the Covid-19 crisis under control, according to reports.

Six of the 10 matches due to be played in the top flight last weekend were postponed because of outbreaks of cases within clubs.

It had been reported that clubs would consider calling off the round of games scheduled for December 28 to 30.

Richard Masters arrives at the Premier League's offices in London on Monday
Richard Masters arrives at the Premier League’s offices in London on Monday (Jonathan Brady/PA)

However, following a shareholders’ meeting involving representatives of the 20 clubs on Monday, it has been reported that a decision has been taken to continue with the season as planned, and that any decisions to postpone individual matches will continue to be taken by the Premier League board on a case-by-case basis.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel led criticism from Premier League clubs across the weekend, with the Blues “deeply disappointed” to have their request for a postponement at Wolves on Sunday rejected.

The Blues were missing eight players with Covid-related absences, and could only field 14 outfield players in their match squad.

Tuchel accused the Premier League of risking the health and safety of his players, fearing further matches would be thrown into doubt.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank was the first to call for a ‘firebreak’ pause on the league action last week, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp adding his support to those calls on Sunday.

Football League bosses confirmed their intentions to press on with the Carabao Cup and EFL fixtures in a statement on Monday afternoon.

“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,” EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said.

“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.”

The Football Association has moved to try to alleviate some potential fixture congestion by scrapping replays for the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup, which take place next month.

Ties will now be played to a conclusion at the first attempt, with extra time and penalties if required.

The governing body, which scrapped replays for the whole of last season’s competition, intends to restore them next year.

A statement from the FA read: “We can today confirm that replays have been removed in both the third and fourth rounds of the 2021-22 Emirates FA Cup.

“This exceptional decision was approved by the FA board on Friday, December 17 and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to Covid-19.

“Ties in the third and fourth rounds of this season’s competition will be played to a finish on the day, with extra time and penalty shootouts if required.

“Replays will return up to and including the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup from the 2022-23 season onwards.”

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