Sam Allardyce and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer disagree over whether a circuit break would be beneficial; Premier League confirmed a season-high 18 coronavirus cases after latest round of testing; Tottenham's match against Fulham on Wednesday latest to be called off
Wednesday 30 December 2020 23:04, UK
The Premier League is not discussing the possibility of a circuit break to halt the season amid a rise of coronavirus cases in the game.
No club has brought the proposal to the league, despite West Brom boss Sam Allardyce calling for a pause to the campaign to try to reduce the number of cases.
A statement released by the Premier League on Wednesday night read: "The Premier League has not discussed pausing the season and has no plans to do so.
"The league continues to have confidence in its COVID-19 protocols to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled, and these protocols continue to have the full backing of government.
"With the health of players and staff the priority, the league is also fully supportive of how clubs are implementing the protocols and rules."
After his side's 5-0 home loss to Leeds on Tuesday night, Allardyce raised the prospect of a temporary halt to the Premier League, saying: "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."
However, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer questioned the logistical implications of completing the already congested season if the campaign were to be paused.
"I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break, whatever it's going to be called," Solskjaer said. "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."
It comes after the Premier League confirmed 18 positive coronavirus tests among players and staff in its latest round of testing - the highest figure of the season so far.
Manchester City's league trip to Everton on Monday was postponed hours before kick-off due to multiple positive cases within the City camp.
Fulham's Premier League match at Tottenham on Wednesday evening was also called off because of an outbreak of coronavirus at the club.
The government has no talks planned on pausing elite sport.
Premier League clubs are not scheduled to meet again until January, with decisions such as halting the season requiring support from at least 14 clubs.
Keeping coronavirus out of the English top flight, even with stringent restrictions in place, will prove impossible while the virus circulates in the general population, Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes, saying if the situation got worse it would need to be "dealt with accordingly" without explicitly backing a break.
"We've got protocols in place and everyone has tried to align with the protocols. But that doesn't stop everything - you've still got to put your hand on a keypad or whatever when you get petrol," he said.
"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."
Brighton manager Graham Potter said after his side's 1-0 defeat by Arsenal that football must do the right thing, and he will be happy to go along with advice.
"Whatever the people think is the right thing to do, for the health of our community, that's the most important thing. Whatever is deemed right, that's what we'll do.
"We're having to make the best of it with everything going on outside of football, which is of course more important. We've got a virus that is escalating and it affects our daily lives as human beings, so it will surely affect us as footballers. So it's something we have to deal with, do our best with.
"We have to make sure we do the right thing, because football is important, but not as important as people's lives and health."
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 kick-off at Burnley on Tuesday that the club had seen "a couple" of players and "four or five backroom staff" test positive.
Wilder said neither he nor the club were looking to have the game delayed, despite only naming seven of a possible nine substitutes.
"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."