Burnley’s match at home to Watford has become the latest Premier League clash to be postponed in controversial circumstances, prompting Gary Neville to once again criticise top-flight chiefs
But in recent weeks, clubs have seen their applications for postponements reluctantly accepted by top-flight chiefs mostly on the basis of injuries, such as Arsenal ahead of the cancelled North London Derby.
Burnley have become the latest, with Neville blasting the Premier League after Tuesday’s relegation six-pointer was called off.
“33 players and staff test positive for Covid out of 13,600 tests [in the top flight this week]. We don’t know the exact breakdown between players and staff but it’s clear that now we must stop calling fixtures off,” the former England defender tweeted.
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“Jan 1st should have been the last date allowed for cancellations. Come on @premierleague @EFL.”
The Clarets said they had reluctantly applied to get the game called off due to a high number of injuries and Covid-19 cases in the squad.
Manager Sean Dyche revealed that just 10 first-team players had trained on Monday, and Watford will now travel to Turf Moor at a later date.
“What started out as postponements due to a pandemic has now become about clubs not having their best team,” the 46-year-old tweeted on Saturday.
“The Premier League must stop this now, draw a line in the sand and say all games go ahead unless you have an exceptional amount of Covid cases. It’s wrong.”
Spurs shared Neville’s view, releasing a strongly-worded statement to express their displeasure.
“We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved,” Tottenham’s website read.
“We ourselves were disqualified from the European Conference League after a significant number of COVID cases meant we needed to reschedule a fixture and our application to move our Leicester fixture was not approved – only for it to be subsequently postponed when Leicester applied.
“The original intention of the guidance was to deal with player availability directly affected by COVID cases, resulting in depleted squads that, when taken together with injuries, would result in the club being unable to field a team.
“We do not believe it was the intent to deal with player availability unrelated to COVID. We may now be seeing the unintended consequences of this rule.
“It is important to have clarity and consistency on the application of the rule. Yet again, fans have seen their plans disrupted at unacceptably short notice.
“We shall once again send food deliveries to the local food banks to avoid unacceptable waste. We are sincerely sorry for our fans – some of whom will have travelled great distances.”