Premier League to plough through festive schedule despite COVID surge

PAUL ELLIS / AFP

English Premier League clubs have agreed to continue playing games scheduled over the festive period despite several fixtures being postponed due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Ten matches have been postponed this month due to outbreaks amid a busy schedule where teams are set to play three times between Boxing Day and January 3.

Shortly after a meeting between all teams on Monday, the Premier League released a statement saying that a record 90 new COVID-19 cases were detected among players and staff in the past week, a significant increase from its total of 42 in the previous round on December 6-12.

"The safety of everybody is a priority and the Premier League is taking all precautionary steps in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country," the league said.

"The league also confirmed to its clubs today that 92% of players and club staff have received one, two or three COVID-19 vaccination doses, with 84% of players on the vaccination journey."

Only four of the weekend's 10 fixtures were played after teams told the Premier League they were missing players due to COVID-19.

The league only grants a postponement if a club has fewer than 14 players available, with the board examining requests on a case-by-case basis.

England's Football Association (FA) said FA Cup replays in rounds three and four have been scrapped to help clear the fixture backlog after several postponements.

However, the English Football League (EFL), which also organises the League Cup, said its fixtures will be played as scheduled.

League Cup semi-finals are played over two legs in January. The competition's quarter-final matches -- with seven Premier League teams in action -- are set to be played this week.

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