Sam Allardyce calls for Premier League ‘circuit break’ as coronavirus positives rise

‘I am 66 years old . . . I’m very concerned for myself and football in general'

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce (right) and Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa on the sidelines at the Hawthorns. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/EPA

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce (right) and Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa on the sidelines at the Hawthorns. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/EPA

 

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 Daily 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.”

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.

“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.”

Fulham are also believed to have 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 Hasenhüttl did not attend his side’s match with West Ham following a positive test in his household.

Nine games across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two on Tuesday were postponed because of the virus, while Rotherham boss Paul Warne said his side are only playing their match with Barnsley to avoid a possible points deduction by the EFL.

Rochdale are one of the clubs in League One whose next two games have been postponed and their club doctor Wes Tensel called for the EFL to see the “bigger picture” and halt the current campaign.

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