Tottenham have been awarded a bye into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup after Leyton Orient failed to fulfil the third-round fixture because the majority of their squad tested positive for Covid-19. Spurs progress and host Chelsea in the next round on Tuesday.
Orient had hoped to reschedule the game given it was worth about £150,000 in television and sponsorship revenue, but the English Football League board determined that, in line with competition rules, the League Two club had to forfeit the match.
Orient’s game at Walsall on Saturday was called off on Thursday and more than a dozen players are thought to be self-isolating as per government guidance. On Friday Grimsby’s game at Cheltenham became the second League Two fixture postponed because of coronavirus.
“Due to a positive case of Covid-19 being identified within the Grimsby Town squad it has resulted in other players and staff being required to self-isolate in line with EFL and government guidance,” an EFL statement said. “As a result, the club has advised the EFL it considers it is unable to safely fulfil this weekend’s fixture.”
Testing is not mandatory in the EFL but Orient accepted Spurs’ offer to pay for testing – which costs about £5,000. The tests took place after last Saturday’s draw against Mansfield, who have returned a set of negative results from precautionary tests in the wake of the outbreak at Orient.
An EFL investigation involving Waltham Forest council, the local authority, and Public Health England into how such an outbreak occurred given the league’s stringent medical regulations and protocols is ongoing.
Orient’s manager, Ross Embleton, said: “We’re devastated that this has happened, but this club is used to setbacks. It’s really important that players, staff and supporters stick together through tough times.”
José Mourinho is angry at the scheduling of the Chelsea game, sandwiched between Premier League and Europa League matches, and indicated the Carabao Cup tie would be bottom of his priority list.
Asked how he ranked the three games in importance, Tottenham’s manager said: “I think the EFL ranked them by themselves. We don’t need to rank because they did for us. When they want us to play 48 hours after we finish a Premier League game and 48 before we play for our presence in the Europa League, I think they rank by themselves. So I don’t need to rank for us.”