Tottenham’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace today will go ahead as planned, with the decision made just hours ahead of kick-off.
It was reported last night that the fixture had been called off due to a number of Covid-19 cases at Palace, but no official communication was released until this morning, a move which left supporters of both sides in the lurch.
However, the game in north London will now be played as scheduled, despite the league’s coronavirus chaos threatening to derail it.
Indeed, three other Premier League games today have already been scrapped as a result of outbreaks, with Burnley’s match with Everton postponed on Christmas Eve.
According to reports, two members of Palace’s backroom staff tested positive for Covid, following on from a number of other positive tests recorded by players.
Palace were pushing for the game to be postponed amid the Covid chaos, while Spurs – well aware of the hectic fixture schedule – were keen to play on.
Tottenham’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace will go ahead today as scheduled
Sportsmail understands, however, that the Premier League were not satisfied with Palace’s late application, which is said to have been lodged early this morning.
Speaking on Friday, Patrick Vieira admitted he was ‘worried’ how the health emergency would affect his squad over the hectic festive period.
‘We hope we’re going to be okay [to face Spurs] but when you’re looking at the number of cases around we start to be worried,’ he said.
‘We had a couple of cases in our football club in the last couple of days.
Spurs were set to welcome Palace this afternoon, but the visitors were hit with Covid-19 cases
Supporters were left in the lurch, and Spurs posted that the game was on amid wild confusion
‘We try our best to prevent the situation but it is worrying because the evolution for the next couple of days we don’t know how it will go.
‘I’m not worried about the players’ welfare regarding the [frequency of] games during this period because it’s been like that for years and years. I’m worried about their welfare regarding Covid.
‘Players coming back from the Covid situation and asking them to play with not enough training is a lot on them.’
The postponement would have meant that just five of the nine top-flight fixtures scheduled for Boxing Day will go ahead. Liverpool vs Leeds, Wolves vs Watford and Burnley’s clash were called off, and will be played at a later date.
Spurs have been affected heavily by Covid disruption.
Palace manager Patrick Vieira admitted he was worried how Covid would affect his squad
Two Premier League games and one Europa Conference League match were postponed as a result of the virus, leaving the club worried about the number of matches they will have to play in the New Year.
Their clashes against Brighton and Leicester, and their group stage tie with Rennes, were waved off after Covid spread among their first-team squad earlier this month.
BT Sport will broadcast their showdown against Palace live this afternoon.
However, they were scheduled to show Liverpool’s trip to Leeds instead, before a Covid outbreak at Elland Road saw the game fall victim to another postponement.
25 Boxing Day games across the top four divisions in England have been wiped out.
Spurs have only recently returned to training after enduring their own large Covid outbreak
At several meetings on Thursday, top-flight managers and captains were able to voice their concerns to the Premier League about the situation.
Fears were raised about the number of games they have to play over a small number of days over the holiday period, in light of Covid cutting down their numbers.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hinted that players may be forced to go on strike, while Tottenham coach Antonio Conte said the talks were ‘a waste of time’.
A lack of transparency from the Premier League has been criticised across the game, and guidance has now been released over the protocols for calling off matches.
Clubs will have to provide information on the details of players and staff – and their vaccination status – who have tested positive, numbers on those unavailable through injury, players on the squad list who are available and detailed medical information.
There were 90 new positive Covid cases in the Premier League (above: chief Richard Masters)
But despite the large increase in positives, the top-flight season will still continue as planned
When weighing up whether to call off a game, the Premier League will consider the impact of the Covid absences, the number of first-team and experienced Under-21 players available, the club’s ability to train their stars and advice from health bodies.
From the most recent round of testing, it was revealed that there were 90 new Covid-19 cases, after a record 12,345 tests carried out by players and staff members.
With the Omicron variant decimating the football calendar over recent weeks, a raft of restrictions were re-introduced to help slow the spread of the virus. Lateral flow tests are taken twice daily, with PCR tests carried out twice a week.
The most recent tally is more than double the amount from the previous round of testing, which saw 42 positive results. This was the highest amount since the pandemic began, before the most recent worrying figures were released.