Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Covid-19: EFL removes matchday testing for players as eight new year games are postponed

Portman Road had been due to stage Ipswich Town’s third home game of the festive period against Lincoln on 1 January

The English Football League has removed the need for clubs to test players for Covid-19 on matchdays in an effort to prevent late postponements.

Hull City’s Championship game with Blackburn on Boxing Day was called off around two hours before kick-off when away fans were already travelling.

The EFL accept the situation was not ideal and believe that testing every day, apart from matchday, is enough.

The decision comes as eight EFL games over new year have been postponed.

Swansea City’s Championship home game with Fulham on 3 January has been called off, as has the New Year’s Day fixture between Coventry and Luton.

The New Year’s Day League One games at Ipswich, Plymouth and Wigan are off, as well as Sunderland v Fleetwood on 2 January.

And in League Two, Rochdale v Mansfield and Salford City v Tranmere have also been postponed.

The EFL said it was confident its new measures were enough to ensure that matches take place safely without inconveniencing supporters.

“Over the past week, it has become clear that the requirement for matchday testing has caused significant concern and uncertainty at clubs as well as seriously affecting supporters,” an EFL spokesperson said.

“The league revisited the matter with its medical advisors and, after careful consideration, which included dialogue with a significant number of club doctors, it was determined that the requirement for matchday testing would be removed, except for those individuals who display Covid symptoms.

“Daily testing will continue on non-matchdays with clubs following updated red protocols which remain our biggest protection against the transmission of Covid.”

Luton have said the number of positive cases within their squad has increased following the postponement of the game against Bristol City on 26 December.

They also had the trip to Swansea on 29 December called off. Swansea said they also have “a considerable number of positive Covid-19 cases within the playing squad”.

Lincoln’s game at Ipswich is one of three League One matches off on 1 January.

“We had hoped, under new guidance, to have players returning to the squad after completing a reduced self-isolation period,” Imps chief executive Liam Scully said.

“The new rules would have allowed them to come out of self-isolation with a negative lateral flow test after seven days.

“Unfortunately the tests remain positive which means we cannot fulfil the fixture. Those who have tested positive will have completed their self-isolation periods in time for our next fixture at home to Oxford United on 8 January, which we expect to go ahead as scheduled.”

Games postponed because of Covid-19 cases

1 January

Championship:

Coventry City v Luton Town

League One:

Ipswich Town v Lincoln City

Plymouth Argyle v AFC Wimbledon

Wigan Athletic v Accrington Stanley

League Two:

Rochdale v Mansfield Town

Salford City v Tranmere Rovers

2 January

League One:

Sunderland v Fleetwood

3 January

Championship:

Swansea City v Fulham

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