Everton’s Boxing Day match in Burnley has been postponed due to cases of Covid-19 and injuries at the Merseyside club.
Everton had an initial request to postpone the game on Thursday that was rejected despite boss Rafael Benitez claiming he only had nine fit fliers.
While there have been no further cases of Covid-19 at Everton, there have been a number of players who have not trained who were originally on the “suitable list”.
A Premier League statement on Friday said the council revised the decision “following further injuries to their team.”
“They [the Premier League board] concluded that the club will not be able to play their game this weekend due to insufficient numbers of players available to play due to Covid-19 cases and injuries, “the statement added.
“The council this morning was able to make a decision before Boxing Day to clarify the clubs and their fans. We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption caused by those fans’ holiday plans.”
Benitez said Thursday he was “surprised” the match was due to take place after two Boxing Day games – Liverpool – Leeds and Wolves – Watford – were postponed due to Covid cases.
His team suffered a Covid outbreak following the December 16 game against Chelsea, while some of the best players including Richarlison and Andros Townsend were injured.
Benitez said: “With the injuries and the positives we have, we expected the game to be postponed.
“As in many other games [to be postponed] to try to maintain the integrity of the league, because you are losing so many players. “
The postponements of Santo Stefano of the Premier League
- Wolves versus Watford
The Premier League publishes match postponement guidelines
The concerns of managers and captains were heard by the Premier League in special meetings on Thursday.
Managers and players have expressed concerns about the number of games to be played in quick succession during the Christmas holiday period due to the demands it is placing on teams that have been downsized due to Covid-19.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola raised the possibility of players slipping over welfare issues, while Tottenham manager Antonio Conte called the matches “a waste of time”.
Following requests from executives for transparency as to why some matches were canceled and others not, the Premier League released a guide explaining its protocols for postponing matches.
Clubs have been told they must provide the following information when requesting a match postponement:
- Details of the players and staff who have Covid, their vaccination status and – if known – the source of their infections
- Players and staff not available due to injury and illness
- Players on the squad list who are still available, including U21 players with “adequate experience”
- Medical information to verify the status of each player not available, which will be reviewed by Premier League medical advisors
The Premier League will then consider the following factors when deciding whether to grant the request:
- Impact of Covid infections, injuries, illnesses and isolation on the team, as well as the number of U21 first team and “with the right experience” players available
- Matches will be postponed if a club does not have at least 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper available
- Status of any Covid outbreaks in the club, including the number and source of infections and proximity to the match
- The club’s ability to safely prepare its players
- Medical advice on the existence of an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff while playing the game
- Advice from the UK Health Securities Agency and other public bodies
- Other exceptional circumstances