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Premier League clubs agree to new postponement rules

Despite the country getting back to some sort of normality in recent times, the Premier League and its clubs headed into this season knowing that there would be some issues with COVID still having a presence. However, there has so far been a total of 22 games having to be rescheduled due to COVID-related postponements, which have caused chaos with potential fixture pile-ups and several clubs having numerous games in hand over others.

There has been great frustration with what has been seen to be the inconsistent application of the rules. Some clubs have felt that they had been forced to play matches despite numerous cases of COVID being confirmed, while others have been able to get games called off at the last minute despite COVID not being the primary reason to getting a game called off.

Further scrutiny was laid at the door of the Premier League following its decision to postpone last month’s North London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal. The game was postponed due to Arsenal not being able to fulfil the quota of having 13 outfield players due to injuries, suspensions and players being unavailable for selection because of AFCON. However, many thought the game should have been played because Arsenal had only one reported COVID case, with many believing that the team should have tuned to its youth teams to fulfil the fixture.

What Arsenal did was within the rules, but the furor has made the Premier League rethink its rules in the hope that fewer games will have to be rescheduled in the future.

As a result of this latest postponement, all 20 Premier League clubs have agreed that from now on, to get a match postponed, a club will need to prove that there have been at least four positive COVID cases.

With the amount of COVID cases in the top flight once again going down, the hope is that far fewer matches will need to be postponed as we move into the second half of the season. The Premier League has stated that it will continue to monitor any requests for postponements on a case-by-case basis. Notably, the total number of COVID cases in the Premier League has fallen for a fourth week in a row – as of Monday 31st January.

As well as releasing new guidance on COVID rules, the Premier League announced further changes with supporters attending matches now no longer required to show COVID passes. However, the league still does recommend that supporters wear face masks in and around the grounds and when indoors or in crowded areas on particular match days. The new rules come into effect immediately.

Kirk is a lifelong follower of all motorsports, particularly Formula 1, Nascar and WRC. When not found at the side of the circuit, eyes stinging from the burnt rubber, he also covers tennis, eSports and other categories for us.

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