Gary Neville has led to calls for the Premier League and EFL to stop canceling festive matches due to concerns about Covid.
Throughout December, 16 top flights have been canceled so far, with Newcastle’s trip to Everton most recently being postponed.
The decision was made after the North East side requested that the match be postponed, after an outbreak of virus in their playing team was exacerbated by a series of serious injuries collected during their 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Monday night.
Gary Neville has suggested that Manchester United should have played through their Covid crisis
The expert has said that the Premier League and EFL must stop the series of postponements
Newcastle had appointed a squad that included only eight substitutions instead of nine on Monday – two of which were goalkeepers. Injuries to Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser have caused Eddie Howe’s pool of available players to shrink further.
However, Neville has reacted to the recent decision by questioning the reasons for having the matches canceled, suggesting that all clubs have access to youth players who are able to fill up an exhausted first team squad.
“PL and EFL (in particular) need to stop these cancellations unless it is in exceptional circumstances,” the Sky Sports expert wrote on Twitter.
‘Each club has 40-50 players including youth teams as a minimum. If it’s the carabao cup or the EFL trophy, they will find a team without putting up with the first 11. Get on with it. ‘
Newcastle have had their Everton showdown canceled after injuries added to their Covid outburst
Newcastle are far from the only team to be hit by an outbreak, and Arsenal confirmed on Wednesday morning that boss Mikel Arteta would miss their New Year’s match with Manchester City after being tested positive for the second time. It was Arteta’s positive test in March 2020 that led to the closure of the Premier League ahead of Britain’s first shutdown.
People like Watford, Tottenham and even Neville’s own Manchester United have also been caught by the more virulent omicron tribe.
But Neville insists there is no bias in his view, stating that he believed Ralf Rangnick’s team should also have been forced to field an exhausted team instead of canceling matches with Brentford and Brighton.
Summoned by a fan who accused the former Red Devil of only expressing an opinion now that United have recovered from the setback, he replied: ‘United should have been told to play!’
Full list of PL exposures
Brighton against Tottenham
Brentford vs Manchester United
Burnley vs. Watford
Leicester vs. Tottenham
Aston Villa vs Burnley
Manchester United vs Brighton
Southampton v Brentford
Watford vs Crystal Palace
West Ham against Norwich
Everton vs. Leicester
Burnley vs. Everton
Liverpool vs. Leeds
Wolves vs Watford
Arsenal vs Wolves
Leeds vs. Aston Villa
Everton vs. Newcastle
No fewer than 16 Premier League matches have been postponed due to Covid outbreaks
Ralf Rangnick saw his team clash with Brentford and Brighton both canceled due to Covid
It is not only in the Premier League where postponements are an issue. A staggering 52 matches have been postponed in the Football League, where more matches are absent than actually going on across the three divisions.
Supporters are calling for clarity on the situation, with some complaining about inconsistencies and clarity about the rules around available players.
An Everton fan commented on the postponement of Everton against Newcastle, wrote: ‘We need transparency. How many Covid cases? How many injuries? Lacks consistency and credibility. ‘
Neville has suggested that clubs use U23 players and youth teams for matches
The Premier League has issued a guide on what factors they will take into account when receiving a request for suspension from a club.
As a rule, they say: ‘If a club can not field 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper, either from its squad or its suitably experienced U21 players, the match will be postponed.’
Appropriate experience is defined by the Premier League as having played at least one appearance for their current club, another Premier League or EFL club or an overseas team.
There are other events where matches can be canceled, for example if the extent of an outburst is not fully determined by a club close to the start of a match, or where a club has not been able to fully prepare out due to the closure of their training facilities.
Neville has already tweeted his opinion that clubs should put more faith in their young players.
On Tuesday, he wrote in response to talkSPORT host Adrian Durham about the ability of championship teams to field teams, and he wrote: “These clubs can in no way get a team out. We have seen in the PL when teams’ requests are rejected that they end with playing close to the lineups for full strength.
“Time for the clubs to get on with it and trust their young players unless it’s under exceptional circumstances.”
PREMIER LEAGUE RULES ON COVID EXHIBITIONS
The Premier League Board will consider the following factors when making a decision:
1) The impact of COVID-19 infections on a club squad, as well as injuries, illness and those isolating, and the number of players available on the squad list and any U21 players with appropriate experience. Where a club can not field with 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper, either from its squad or its suitably experienced U21 players, the match will be postponed.
2) Status of any COVID-19 outbreak in a club, including the number of individuals affected, the order and source of infections, and their proximity to that match.
3) A club’s ability to safely prepare its players for a match.
4) Medical advice on whether there is any unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff in playing the match.
5) Any advice from the UK Health Security Agency and other public bodies.
6) Any other extraordinary circumstances.