Sam Allardyce has called for a “circuit break” after the Premier League returned its highest number of positive coronavirus tests this season.
Responding to reports in the Telegraph that representatives of some top-flight clubs had proposed a two-week “cooling off” period, the West Brom boss insisted it was the “right thing” to cope with the outbreak.
Between December 21st and 27th, the League tested 1,479 players and club staff and 18 tested positive, eclipsing the previous highest number of cases, 16 during the week of November 9th-15th.
Speaking after his side’s 5-0 home defeat to Leeds, former England boss Allardyce said: “Everyone’s safety is more important than anything else.
“When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original virus we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break.
“I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do it catch Covid. I’m very concerned for myself and football in general. If that’s what needs to be done we need to do it.
“We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try.”
The PA news agency understands that the Premier League is unaware of any such talks taking place. However, pressure is likely to grow after both Sheffield United and Fulham were affected by new outbreaks of the virus.
Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed ahead of their match at Burnley that the club had seen “a couple” of players and “four or five backroom staff” test positive. Wilder’s starting XI was unaffected, with just one change from the previous match, Oliver Burke dropping to the bench, but he was only able to name seven of a possible nine substitutes.
Wilder said neither he nor the club were looking to have the game delayed.
“It’s not an ideal situation but I don’t think we’re a club of one. It (the virus) is picking up and it’s running high at football clubs,” he told SUTV.
Sheffield United can confirm the club recorded a number of positive coronavirus tests after the latest round of testing.
The individuals who have tested positive have now entered into a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and Government guidelines.
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) December 29, 2020
“We just notified the relevant authorities that we’ve had a situation at the football club. But I want to play football. That’s how it is, we’re not looking to get anything canned. We did the right thing as far as our responsibility to the Premier League and notified them regarding the players that are ill.”
The PA news agency understands that Fulham have also recorded a number of positive tests and Wednesday’s London derby at Tottenham is dependent on the results of the players and staff at Craven Cottage who are yet to receive their results.
Manchester City began retesting their squad on Tuesday in the hope they have acted quickly enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease after their Monday game at Everton was called off at short notice due to a number of positive cases, while Arsenal confirmed on Monday that Brazilian defender Gabriel had tested positive for the virus.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl did not attend his side’s match with West Ham following a positive test in his household.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 28, 2020
A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 21 December and Sunday 27 December, 1,479 players and Club staff were tested for Covid-19. Of these, there were 18 new positive tests.
“Players or club staff who have tested positive will self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”
Sheffield United have not revealed whether it is players or staff who are affected.
They said in a statement: “Sheffield United can confirm the club recorded a number of positive coronavirus tests after the latest round of testing.
“Due to medical confidentiality the club will not be revealing the names of those who have been affected.
“The individuals who have tested positive have now entered into a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and Government guidelines.
“Everyone at Sheffield United would like to extend our best wishes to our colleagues and wish them a speedy recovery.”