LONDON (AP) — Premier League clubs decided against pausing the season on Monday despite 10 fixtures being postponed in the previous week due to the most widespread coronavirus outbreaks to date across squads.
While more than 90% of players in the Italian and Spanish leagues have been fully vaccinated, the Premier League disclosed that only 77% of its players had received two doses. In its first update on vaccine take-up in two months, the league also said 16% of players had not received even a single dose.
Coronavirus cases across players and staff hit another high in the last week, more than doubling from 42 to 90. It reflects a spike in infections across Britain with more than 90,000 daily cases reported in three of the last four days.
Premier League clubs met virtually on Monday after six of the weekend’s 10 games were called off.
“While recognizing a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges,” the league said after the call, “it is the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.
“The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the league will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.”
Due to the looming fixture congestion to play postponed games, it was announced Monday that plans for replays in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup have been scrapped.
The league has urged players to get vaccinated to avoid squads being depleted and games called off due to coronavirus cases.
People in England who have not been fully vaccinated have to self-isolate for 10 days if they are deemed a close contact of someone who had tested positive. Someone in that situation who has received at least two doses would only have to undergo daily testing — freeing a footballer to continuing playing.
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Rob Harris, The Associated Press