Premier League managers and players are expected to vent their frustration at being told to continue playing amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, which some believe has put safety at risk.
Top-flight clubs yesterday rejected a festive “circuit breaker” and agreed to play on, leaving some coaches and players dismayed.
The decision came as the League announced a record 90 positives among 12,345 tests on players and staff over the previous seven days. The figure was up from 42 positives from 3,805 tests in the previous seven-day period.
Managers and captains are due to discuss the situation at a separate meeting on Thursday, when fierce objections are expected to be raised at their clubs’ decision.
The top-flight schedule has already been decimated by postponements, with six of the 10 matches last weekend called off.
At the emergency meeting of all 20 clubs yesterday, three options were considered: continuing to stage matches where possible; postponing the entire round of fixtures which begins on December 28; and calling a halt to the entire season.
A clear majority of clubs were in favour of playing on and the options did not go to a vote, although Liverpool were among those to favour option two.
Jurgen Klopp, the Reds boss, has insisted it is impossible for his stretched squad to play on both December 26 and 28, while Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel said his players were put at “huge risk” of Covid or injuries by facing Wolves on Sunday – after the Premier League board rejected the Blues’ request for a postponement.
Newcastle’s Eddie Howe and Brentford’s Thomas Frank have also publicly raised concerns about the schedule.
The EFL has also agreed to play on, although three of its teams are set to play behind closed doors from Boxing Day, with the Welsh government poised to lock out supporters again – impacting Swansea, Cardiff and Newport.
The move raises fears that Whitehall could soon follow suit, which would deal a devastating financial blow to clubs throughout the English Football League.
The Premier League’s latest vaccinated figures, released yesterday, showed that 16 per cent of top-flight players are still yet to receive a single jab.
Yesterday’s meeting of clubs also included discussion on whether to impose special measures on unvaccinated players to encourage them to get jabbed.
The number of players to be double vaccinated has risen to 77 per cent, up from 68 per cent in October, while 92 per cent of players and club staff have received at least one jab.
By contrast, 98 per cent of players in Italy’s Serie A are double vaccinated, while it is 94 per cent in Germany’s Bundesliga.
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