Confirmed: All Professional Football In England & Scotland Postponed
The FA, Premier League, EFL and FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until Friday 3 April at the earliest.
In Scotland, the Scottish FA and SPFL have made a joint decision to suspend all games for the next two matchdays beginning tonight with the postponement of Motherwell’s game against Aberdeen.
The postponements follow meetings between each country’s respective leagues and associations earlier today and will be kept under constant review.
Despite the UK government not placing restrictions around the mass gatherings or sporting events, the decision by football’s governing bodies has been prompted due to the increasing numbers of clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the Covid-19 virus.
News broke that Arsenal’s manager, Mikel Arteta and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi had both tested positive to Covid-19 and comes just days after it was confirmed Nottingham Forest’s owner, Evangelos Marinakis, had tested positive for the virus.
The postponement will also apply to all England team fixtures at every level and all FA competitions including the Emirates FA Cup and the Women’s FA Cup, along with academy and youth-team matches.
A joint statement from the FA, Premier League and EFL read: “The decision is being made purely on the number of cases requiring self-isolation and the impact on facilities.
“Given the steps being taken across clubs, there is no alternative but for today’s action. However, all parties are committed at this time to trying to complete this season’s domestic fixture programme and are liaising to establish appropriate options to do so.”
No decision has yet been taken on the non-league game which is expected later today.
The joint FA, Premier League and EFL statement, continued: “We are liaising with the National League pyramids (men’s and women’s) and will continue to offer guidance and support. Any decision to continue playing or to postpone their respective competitions is a matter for each league as autonomous bodies within the game.”
In response to the decision to postpone matches in Scotland, Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive, said: “Since the guidance outlined by governments last night we have been engaged in extensive dialogue to clarify the position and implications of that guidance for Scottish football.
“Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game. This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”
Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, added: “As everyone knows, this is a fast-moving and unprecedented situation for the entire country.
“We have been in intensive and detailed discussions since last night and have also been taking on board the experience of our counterparts in England and across Europe. As a result, the board of the SPFL has agreed this morning that all league fixtures this weekend and next midweek will be postponed until further notice.
“The health and safety of fans, players and officials is absolutely paramount. We have not yet had any confirmed cases of Coronavirus amongst players in Scotland, but, given the nature of this outbreak, it seems only a matter of time.
“We realise that many people will be bitterly disappointed, and we would obviously prefer to be in a position where we can continue as normal, but that’s neither realistic nor possible.”
UEFA have also confirmed that all matches in UEFA competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, will not take place next week.
A video-conference meeting of representatives from UEFA’s 55 member associations, together with the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a representative of FIFPro, has been scheduled on Tuesday 17 March to discuss European football’s response to the outbreak which could involve a decision on the Euro finals due to take place across Europe in June.
Images: PA Images