The Premier League will not be changing their rules on coronavirus-enforced postponements, despite criticism over their decision to take injuries into account when deciding whether games can go ahead.
The recent cancellation of Newcastle United’s trip to Everton has caused controversy as the Magpies’ request was only accepted after they picked up three injuries during their draw with Manchester United earlier this week.
Current rules state that teams must have 13 senior players – anyone who has featured in a Premier League game – and a goalkeeper for a match to go ahead, and it was determined that Newcastle did not meet these requirements.
The decision was publicly criticised by Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl as well as several others, including pundit Gary Neville.
Hasenhuttl, whose Saints side are due to face Newcastle on 2 January barring a further cancellation, argued that injuries are part and parcel of the game and should not be taken into account when considering postponement requests.
“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,” he said.
Despite this criticism, the Daily Mail reports that there is no intention to change the rules this campaign.
This issue is unlikely to go away anytime soon with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreading across Europe at an alarming rate.
A record 103 Premier League players and staff tested positive for the virus last week and this is likely to result in further postponements in January. There is already a sizable fixture backlog to get through in 2022 with only a handful of teams not behind schedule in the division.
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