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Premier League will not budge on Covid-led postponements despite uproar

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Premier League will NOT change rules on Covid-led postponements despite managers and pundits slamming decisions to call off games for injuries over the festive period

  • Managers and pundits have criticised the raft of matches postponed recently
  • Premier League have allowed sides to call games off due to Covid and injuries 
  • Gary Neville believes teams should be forced to field academy players   
  • There are no plans for the current rules to be changed or amended  


The Premier League will not change the rules on Covid-led postponements despite a backlash from managers and pundits.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is the latest to question why injuries are being taken into consideration when calling off games. His side are due to host Newcastle on Sunday, but it is likely their opponents will request a postponement in the next 24 hours.

The Magpies asked the Premier League to rearrange Thursday evening’s trip to Everton after a Covid outbreak was compounded by three injuries during Monday’s draw with Manchester United. That request was granted — the 16th top-flight match lost this month — but Hasenhuttl feels Newcastle should have been able to fulfil the fixture.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is the latest manager to complain about recent cancellations

Ralph Hasenhuttl is the latest manager to complain about recent cancellations 

Newcastle were granted a postponement to their upcoming game against Southampton

Newcastle were granted a postponement to their upcoming game against Southampton

‘Injuries are not Covid cases,’ he said. ‘They had seven or eight players on the bench during their last game and now they have two more injuries. They should still have 13 players plus one (goalkeeper), this is the message from the Premier League.’

While Newcastle’s case was thought to be marginal, the Premier League were satisfied they did not have 13 outfield players with first-team experience available for the game. 

Joe White, 19, was on the bench on Monday, but does not count as an available player because he has not played a senior game.

Gary Neville believes clubs should be forced to field academy players. ‘The PL and EFL, in particular, have got to stop these cancellations unless in exceptional circumstances,’ he tweeted. 

Gary Neville believes teams should be fielding academy players rather than call games off

Gary Neville believes teams should be fielding academy players rather than call games off

‘Each club has 40-50 players including youth team as a minimum. If it’s the Carabao Cup or EFL Trophy they find a team without fielding the first 11. It’s time for clubs to get on with it and trust their young players, unless in exceptional circumstances.’

West Ham boss David Moyes says his club would find it ‘nearly impossible’ to have a game called off as they have so many academy players with first-team experience, which he feels is unfair. He also cast doubt on the motivation of some clubs in requesting postponements.

‘I hope nobody is getting their games called off for injuries, because we would have called a few of ours off if that were the case,’ he said.

David Moyes thinks there is a disadvantage for his side having youngsters with experience

David Moyes thinks there is a disadvantage for his side having youngsters with experience

The Premier League say they will stick with the guidance of Appendix 17 (13 players plus one goalkeeper available) and that clubs know exactly where they stand after agreeing not to pause fixtures during a meeting last Monday.

There was a record number of 103 new Covid positives recorded among top-flight players and staff last week. The Premier League have responded by introducing a real-time tracker system in which clubs must provide information on Covid cases, isolation periods, injuries and player availability.

There is no risk of clubs running out of testing kits amid the nationwide shortage. The Premier League have paid Prenetics for private testing — daily lateral flows and twice-weekly PCRs — and testing tents have been assembled in most training-ground car parks.

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