Aston Villa‘s home match with Burnley was postponed shortly before kick-off on Saturday after a coronavirus outbreak in the Villa camp, leaving only one Premier League fixture on the day’s schedule. Just four games are now due to be played in total this weekend out of the original 10, with the growing Covid-19 crisis causing chaos during the busiest time in the English football calendar. “Due to more positive cases in the Aston Villa squad today, the Premier League Board has regrettably had to postpone the club’s home fixture against Burnley, due to kick-off at 3:00pm (1500 GMT) this afternoon,” the league said in a statement.
“After reviewing all the new information provided by Aston Villa this morning and receiving separate medical advice, the board approved the request as a result of the club not having enough players to field a team.”
Villa, managed by Steven Gerrard, acknowledged and apologised for the late postponement, which came a little over two hours before the match was due to kick off, but said they acted as quickly as they could.
A club statement read: “The results of PCR tests, which were taken yesterday prior to training as well as lateral flow tests, were received this morning and confirmed further depletion of our playing squad which was already impacted upon for our trip to Norwich in midweek.
“All individuals who tested positive are now isolating in line with Premier League and government guidance and protocols.”
The British government on Friday reported 93,045 new coronavirus cases, a third consecutive record daily tally, as the Omicron variant fuels a surge in infections across the country.
Premier League clubs are due to meet on Monday to discuss what action to take, with a busy schedule of matches over the Christmas and New Year period.
Some managers have voiced concerns over potential harm to the integrity of the competition, with teams deprived of key players and some training grounds closed.
Leaders Manchester City, due to travel to struggling Newcastle on Sunday, have already played three more games than Tottenham.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank this week called for a suspension of matches to “break the chain” of infection while Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp said it could soon become impossible to maintain the schedule as squads became over-stretched by Covid absences and injuries.
The Premier League’s position has been that games will continue when it is safe to stage them and the remaining four matches due to be played this weekend are currently due to go ahead, starting with Leeds’ home match against in-form Arsenal on Saturday at 1730 GMT.
Three games are listed for Sunday — City’s clash with Newcastle, Wolves v Chelsea and Tottenham v Liverpool.
The English Football League, which comprises the three divisions below the Premier League, has also been hit by a swathe of postponements with 19 of its 36 games called off due to coronavirus.
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