The Premier League has informed clubs that it is exploring ways to ‘reward’ those which are most ‘covid compliant’ and have squads with higher uptake of vaccines.
There have been recent concerns that not enough Premier League footballers have been vaccinated against the virus. Young professional athletes are typically at low risk from developing serious complications but the experiences of Dean Henderson and Karl Darlow prove there is no guarantee.
Manchester United goalkeeper Henderson was sidelined for a number of weeks during the summer and into the season as a result of prolonged fatigue.
Darlow, meanwhile, spent three days in hospital and lost 5kg after having ‘nearly every single symptom’. He also suffered from weeks of fatigue. Earlier this month, the Newcastle stopper used a BBC interview to urge other footballers to ‘go and get the jab’.
When discussing N’Golo Kante’s positive test this week, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said that clubs cannot force players to get vaccinated because it is a ‘free choice’.
The Daily Mail reports that Premier League clubs have received a briefing note advising that players getting vaccinated could soon be incentivised to increase the uptake across the league, which is alarmingly low in some cases.
“According to the data we have, only seven clubs' squads are more than 50 per cent fully vaccinated, so we have a way to go,” the note issued to clubs read.
“We are considering if and how best we can 'reward' those squads/players who are most Covid-compliant and who have opted to be vaccinated.
“It is increasingly clear that full vaccination will be the key criteria for Government and health authorities, in terms of international travel and potential Covid certification at large scale events.”
It is said that two Premier League clubs have no more than six players vaccinated, although Leeds, Wolves and Brentford have reported high vaccination levels pushing 100%.
The note also confirmed that current training and matchday protocols for Premier League will remain in place until at least 31 December. At that stage, vaccination levels will then serve as a guide as to whether it is appropriate for the guidelines can be relaxed or adapted.