Coronavirus infections in the Premier League led to a fourth match in five days being postponed on Thursday with Leicester’s game against Tottenham called off hours before kickoff.
It is the third consecutive Tottenham match postponed due to coronavirus cases in its squad, including a Europa Conference League game. Dealing with its own outbreak, Leicester had an earlier request to postpone the match turned down by the Premier League.
But the league said Thursday that Leicester now had an “insufficient number of players available” after further COVID-19 infections among staff and players. The training ground was closed to contain the outbreak.
“The Premier League understands this decision will disappoint and frustrate fans who were due to attend this evening’s game and apologizes for the inconvenience and disruption caused at such short notice,” the league said.
The decision was made on Thursday as Brentford manager Thomas Frank said he wants the weekend round of fixtures to be postponed to allow clubs to deal with coronavirus outbreaks.
Frank was informed midway through his news conference on Thursday, ahead of Brentford’s away match at Southampton on Saturday, of four more cases of the coronavirus among players and staff at the club. That took the total to 13.
Three previous matches over the past week — Brighton-Tottenham, Brentford-Manchester United and Burnley-Watford — have been called off because of virus outbreaks in squads, and many teams have individual cases of COVID-19 amid a worsening health emergency in Britain caused by the omicron variant.
“We should postpone the full round of Premier League games this weekend,” Frank said. “COVID cases are going through the roof at all Premier League clubs, everyone is dealing with it and having problems.
“To postpone this round and also (next week’s English League Cup) round would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.”
Frank said postponing this weekend’s round of league games could be enough to ensure the busy festive program in the division will be able to go ahead largely as planned.
“We fully respect that we want to play and it is important football keeps going,” Frank said, “and this way we can make sure Boxing Day keeps going, I’m 100% sure of that.
“This omicron variant is running like wildfire around the world and I think we need to do all we can to protect and avoid it. We can do a lot by closing down training grounds for three, four or five days, and then we can go again”.