New Covid-19 Strain 'Likely' to Lead to Premier League Postponements

Robbie Copeland
Dec 21, 2020, 3:30 PM GMT
Empty stadia have become the norm and look as if they will be for the foreseeable
Empty stadia have become the norm and look as if they will be for the foreseeable / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Premier League clubs should brace for an increase in postponements over the Christmas period as a result of the new strain of Covid-19, according to health expert Dr John Ashton.

London was moved back into Tier 4 of the government's lockdown restrictions after an outbreak of the new strain was discovered. It caused panic elsewhere in the UK, with Scotland announcing a ban on travel to other UK nations, while France and other EU countries have closed their airports to the UK temporarily.

It also led to a curtailment of UK-wide plans to ease restrictions over Christmas.

The news came after Boris Johnson had moved several areas in England up from Tier 2 to Tier 3, leading to six Premier League clubs, who were allowed up to 2,000 fans at games, closing their stadiums altogether. As things stand only Brighton, Everton, Liverpool and Southampton can welcome supporters.

Newcastle had their trip to Aston Villa postponed earlier this month after a Covid outbreak at their training ground, but according to a report from The Telegraph, we may only be seeing the start of the virus' impact on football.

They quote Ashton, former Director of Public Health in North-West England, as saying there are 'likely to be' more postponements in the Premier League and other top-level sporting competitions over the festive period.

Paraphrasing a famous Christmas song, Ashton went on: “If you watched the clips overnight on social media of the crowds at the stations leaving London, this is Chris Rea taking the virus home for Christmas.”

The main cause of concern is people fleeing from London after it was the first region of England to be moved into Tier 4. Trains out of the capital were full on Saturday evening after the new restrictions were announced.