Sam Allardyce wants football circuit break to combat rising Covid-19 positive cases

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce proposes temporary suspension of football to act as 'circuit breaker' to combat rise in Covid cases; Premier League recorded its highest number of positive tests in weekly testing; A number of EFL fixtures have been postponed due to outbreaks at clubs

West Bromwich Albion's English Head Coach Sam Allardyce (L) and West Bromwich Albion's assistant head coach Sammy Lee (R) watch from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 27, 2020. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP) 1:18
Sam Allardyce feels the time has come to temporarily suspend football

Sam Allardyce has revealed West Brom had a positive coronavirus test this week and has called for a break in football action to combat rising cases in the game.

The Premier League announced its highest number of positive cases on Tuesday since it began weekly testing in May, with 18 out of 1,479 tests coming back positive.

Manchester City's game at Everton on Monday was postponed four hours before kick-off due to an outbreak at City, while Fulham's game at Tottenham on Wednesday is in doubt due to positive cases in the Cottagers' squad.

The English Football League (EFL) has also been severely hit by fixture postponements due to coronavirus outbreaks at clubs.

It is understood there are no plans for the Premier League to pause the current season, but Allardyce, speaking after West Brom's 5-0 home loss to Leeds United, said: "Everyone's safety is more important than anything else.

"When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original virus [so] we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break.

"I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid. I'm very concerned for myself and football in general. If that's what needs to be done we need to do it.

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"We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not see the benefit in having a two-week "circuit break" in the Premier League

Solskjaer: I can't see benefits of two-week break

Speaking after Manchester United's 1-0 win over Wolves on Tuesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer questioned the logistics of implementing a two-week break in an already packed Premier League schedule - with the European Championships looming large next summer to avoid the season being extended as it was in 2019/20.

"It's not something I've thought about a lot. I think our players have been really good in following protocols and rules," Solskjaer said.

"That's part of the job here, that we as clubs follow the protocols given. I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break, whatever it's going to be called.

"Because when are we going to play the games? We all know this year is so difficult, but I don't think stopping the games is going to make a big, big change."

1:00
Sean Dyche insists Burnley are abiding by strict coronavirus protocols but says it is hard to control what goes on away from the club, amid concerns over a spike in cases

Dyche: Club protocols are very strict

Burnley manager Sean Dyche is confident his players are working within "very strict" protocols to limit the spread of coronavirus when they are with the club but that they still have to "live their lives" away from football.

"We've got protocols in place and everyone has tried to align with the protocols," said Dyche. "But that doesn't stop everything - you've still got to put your hand on a keypad or whatever when you get petrol.

"Players have still got to live their lives, they've still got to operate in a way that is within the rules and the guidelines; the ones we have within the camp are very strict but the players have lives.

"They have families and we are told that it (the virus) is everywhere so we can only stay within the guidelines, I just hope it stays outside of football as best it can. If the numbers keep rising we'll have to deal with that accordingly."

1:08
Graham Potter says Brighton will do 'whatever people think is right', including a potential break in Premier League action, if coronavirus cases continue to rise

Sheffield United confirm 'number of positive tests'

Sheffield United confirmed they had recorded a number of positive coronavirus tests after their latest round of testing.

Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed ahead of their 1-0 defeat at Burnley that the club had seen "a couple" of players and "four or five backroom staff" test positive.

Wilder's starting line-up was unaffected, with just one change from the previous match, Oliver Burke dropping to the bench, but he was only able to name seven of a possible nine substitutes.

Wilder said neither he nor the club had looked to have the game delayed.

"It's not an ideal situation but I don't think we're a club of one. It (the virus) is picking up and it's running high at football clubs," he said.

"We just notified the relevant authorities that we've had a situation at the football club. But I want to play football. That's how it is, we're not looking to get anything canned. We did the right thing as far as our responsibility to the Premier League and notified them regarding the players that are ill."

Premier LEague 3:23
Sky Sports News Chief Reporter Bryan Swanson says the Premier League insists their 'medical protocols are robust' after the latest round of coronavirus testing shows 18 positive cases - the highest of the season so far

Premier League postponements - what league guidance says

The Premier League board took medical advice into consideration when making the decision to postpone City's game against Everton. Decisions to rearrange games are only in "exceptional" circumstances and judged on "case-by-case basis", says the Premier League, which maintains its medical protocols are robust.

Guidance issued to clubs in the Premier League Handbook 2020/21 is that "permission will not be granted to postpone a League match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available".

The final decision is always made by the Premier League Board.

Previous Premier League test results this season

  • Round 1: 31 Aug-6 Sep - 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.
  • Round 2: 7-13 Sep - 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 3: 14-20 Sep - 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.
  • Round 4: 21-27 Sep - 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.
  • Round 5: 28 Sep-4 Oct - 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.
  • Round 6: 5-11 Oct - 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.
  • Round 7: 12-18 Oct - 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.
  • Round 8: 19-25 Oct - 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.
  • Round 9: 26 Oct-1 Nov - 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 10: 2-8 Nov - 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 11: 9-15 Nov - 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.
  • Round 12: 16-22 Nov - 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.
  • Round 13: 23-29 Nov - 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.
  • Round 14: 30 Nov-6 Dec - 1,483 tested with 14 testing positive.
  • Round 15: 7-13 Dec - 1,549 tested with six testing positive.
  • Round 16: 14-20 Dec - 1,569 tested with seven testing positive.
  • Round 17: 21-27 Dec - 1,479 tested with 18 testing positive.
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