Tottenham vs Rennes in Europa Conference League off after Covid-19 outbreak, UEFA confirms

Antonio Conte said he was "scared" for squad going into the game after eight players and five staff test positive for Covid-19; UEFA regulations usually mean matches cannot be postponed unless a club has fewer than 13 players or no registered goalkeeper available; Brighton game in doubt

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UEFA has confirmed Tottenham's Europa Conference League match against Rennes is off after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Premier League club, as Paul Gilmour reports

UEFA has confirmed Tottenham's Europa Conference League match against Rennes is off after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Premier League club.

Spurs said on Wednesday evening the game had been called off but Rennes disputed the statement, saying the decision had not yet been confirmed by UEFA.

It followed revelations that eight first-team players and five staff at Tottenham had tested positive for Covid-19.

The French club said the decision to call off the game had been taken "unilaterally" by Tottenham and that they wanted to play the match as scheduled, but on Thursday morning UEFA told Sky Sports News the fixture would not go ahead.

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Antonio Conte had questioned why his players and staff were being made to continue preparing for their upcoming matches after a Covid outbreak

UEFA regulations usually mean matches cannot be postponed unless a club has fewer than 13 players or no registered goalkeeper available.

All European group stage matches must be completed by the end of 2021, with Tottenham already facing a busy festive schedule leaving no obvious window to rearrange the fixture.

Tottenham fixtures

Spurs need a victory against Rennes, who are already assured to finish top of the group, to stand a chance of qualifying for the last 32.

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Speaking on Wednesday, Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte did not reveal whether the club have contacted the Premier League ahead of Sunday's Premier League visit to Brighton.

Postponing Premier League games is taken on a case-by-case basis and the decision would be made by the Premier League board if a request is received from a club.

'Stunned if Brighton game goes ahead'

Could Spurs’ PL game against Brighton be postponed?

In the Premier League, the 2021-22 handbook states permission will not be granted to postpone a league match if a club has 14 or more players on its squad list available.

However, postponing league games is taken on a case-by-case basis and the decision would be made by the Premier League board if a request is received from a club.

Sky Sports News' Paul Gilmour:

"We finally have clarity on the situation, with UEFA backing up Tottenham's stance. This is not a forfeit. Governing bodies' preference is always to get games played and that is what will happen in this case.

"UEFA rules say that any rearranged group games have to be played before December 31 but I'm told there is some room for manoeuvre there.

"Tottenham have six fixtures before that date and that's before we take into consideration the winter break in France, beginning on December 22. Of those six fixtures, some could be off too.

"We're fully expecting the Brighton game to follow the same direction as this Europa Conference League one. We're expecting Tottenham to make that request to the Premier League board, who will then decide on a case-by-case basis, taking into account medical advice and whether the virus has been contained or not.

"The closure of the first-team area here, and the fact that one player and one member of staff tested positive after training with the rest of the team on Wednesday, shows there are still concerns about containment.

"I would be stunned if the Brighton game goes ahead on Sunday. It will be a fixture backlog for Spurs but a reminder that we are still in a global pandemic and that health is the priority."

Tottenham fixtures: What's coming up?

December 12: Brighton vs Tottenham - Premier League, kick-off 2pm

December 16: Leicester vs Tottenham - Premier League, kick-off 7.30pm

December 19: Tottenham vs Liverpool - Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

December 22: Tottenham vs West Ham - Carabao Cup, kick-off 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports

December 26: Tottenham vs Crystal Palace - Premier League, kick-off 3pm

Mixed messages in football: When is a match postponed due to Covid?

In the Premier League, the 2021-22 handbook states permission will not be granted to postpone a league match if a club has 14 or more players on its squad list available.

However, postponing league games is taken on a case-by-case basis and the decision would be made by the Premier League board if a request is received from a club.

Last season, the Premier League postponed six matches because of Covid-19 cases at clubs, including Spurs' game against Fulham, which was called off on the day of the game.

However, on the opening day of this season, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was left surprised his side's Premier League opener against Brentford was not postponed after a severe Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Arsenal's starting line-up against Brentford on the opening day
Image: Arsenal's starting line-up against Brentford on the opening day

The Gunners were without Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Runarsson, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian for the 2-0 defeat after confirming all four had contracted Covid-19.

"Yes, I was surprised, but the regulators decided that the best thing to do was to play the game," Arteta said.

But while the Premier League season-opener went ahead in England even when multiple first-team players were ruled out, in Scotland the story has been very different.

In November, Hibernian's Premiership games against Ross County and Livingston were postponed after two Hibs players tested positive.

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Kaveh Solhekol reports on UK Government plans to make fans provide proof of vaccine status or a negative lateral flow test before entering stadiums in England.

What will the change in government guidelines mean for football?

Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol...

"Clubs will need to do a lot of work, but as far as the Premier League are concerned, they already have done a lot of work because the advice for going to games is that you should have proof on your smartphone that you have been vaccinated or proof of a negative test.

"The Premier League were expecting this government announcement, it is something that they have prepared for but it is something that fans really need to know about as this will come in from next Wednesday.

"What we've got at the moment is 'Plan B' being carried out by the government and the Prime Minister has hinted that there could be a 'Plan C' in the future.

"That Plan C could be mandatory vaccinations for everybody, which could be an issue for supporters but also an issue for players.

"The latest figures from the Premier League back in October revealed that 62 per cent of players were fully vaccinated.

"Obviously, if these rules were to come in, some of these players would have to get double vaccinated to carry on working.

"With supporters, I thought it was very interesting what David Moyes said on Wednesday because he called for mandatory vaccinations and said that if he was attending a game as a fan, he would want to be reassured that those sitting around him had been double jabbed.

"So that could be something for the future, it feels like it is the direction of travel that we're heading in."

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