Leicester confident remaining Premier League home games will go ahead despite local lockdown

Leicester statement: "There will be no greater risk posed to club personnel, visiting teams or our surrounding communities. Consequently our forthcoming Premier League fixtures remain unaffected."

Brendan Rodgers
Image: Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side look set to play their remaining home games at the King Power Stadium

Leicester remain confident their final three Premier League home games at the King Power Stadium will go ahead despite the city's local lockdown.

The club has spoken with local authorities, its Safety Advisory Group and the Premier League after the government's announcement on Monday Leicester would have stricter measures imposed following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The Foxes are due to host Crystal Palace on Saturday and will also welcome Sheffield United and Manchester United.

Although the health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that Leicester's match with Palace would go ahead, the Premier League's chief executive Richard Masters told parliament that contingency plans are in place for the game to be moved to a neutral venue or postponed if necessary.

But in a statement on Tuesday night, Leicester announced "forthcoming fixtures remain unaffected" by the local lockdown with the team continuing to train at Belvoir Drive.

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A Leicester City spokesman said: "The Club has today consulted with local authorities, its Safety Advisory Group and the Premier League, following Monday night's Government announcement relative to coronavirus measures in Leicester.

"All parties remain entirely satisfied that, through the continued implementation of our COVID-19 operations plan, the Club's football operations can continue to safely function under existing protocols and, in doing so, there will be no greater risk posed to Club personnel, visiting teams or our surrounding communities. Consequently, first team training will continue at Belvoir Drive and our forthcoming Premier League fixtures remain unaffected.

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"The Club remains agile to the evolving nature of the situation and suitable continuity arrangements are in place in the event we are required to deviate from our existing protocols.

"The Foxes Fanstore at King Power Stadium has closed, in line with local requirements for non-essential retail. Personnel working on-site remains limited to staff performing essential business functions that cannot be completed from home.

"Through the implementation of a robust and comprehensive COVID-19 operations plan, the Club is fully committed to playing its part in controlling the spread of the virus in our communities, while safely ensuring we can continue to operate and represent those communities on the pitch. We urge our supporters in the city to stay home where possible and to continue to follow the latest localised advice, available at www.leicester.gov.uk."

KP
Image: Leicester's King Power Stadium is in the heart of the city

The Premier League believes all its stadiums are secure while clubs agreed ahead of the restart to use neutral venues in the event their games could not be played at home.

The Premier League still has a number of neutral venues on standby should any decision be taken that a game cannot be hosted at a club's home stadium.

Hancock has ordered all non-essential shops to close from today, and all schools in the area to close for most pupils from Thursday.

He has also advised people in the wider Leicester area to stay at home as much as possible and avoid "non-essential travel", and says the government will bring forward a change in the law to enable them to enforce the lockdown.

Hancock said: "We will be bringing forward a legal change very shortly in the next couple of days. Some of the measures that we've unfortunately had to take in Leicester will require a legal underpinning."

The measures were taken as Leicester had accounted for "10 per cent of all positive cases in the country over the past week".

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said on Monday that the squad was as safe as it could be, with all the players living outside the city boundary and driving into a secure training ground each day.

Rodgers: Nothing has changed

Despite Leicester facing the threat of having their matches moved away from the city, Rodgers appeared relaxed about that prospect.

"Nothing has changed in terms of how we have been working thus far throughout this situation," said Rodgers, who was speaking ahead of his side's trip to Everton on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.

"I have always said we will react accordingly. We have to have agility in this period. I think in this moment in time we are in the safest place we can be in terms of our work, the stadium also.

"It is a very safe environment for the games to be in. We will just keep working until we are told otherwise."

Asked whether his side would be placed at a disadvantage should their home games be moved away from the King Power Stadium, he added: "It is something I am not really thinking of. It is all hypothetical at the moment. We will just continue with our work."

Soyuncu's header is blocked by Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta
Image: Leicester's hopes of a trophy this season ended with defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup

'Leicester still on track'

Rodgers also refused to suggest his Leicester were anything but on track to achieve their target of European football, adding they remain in a "fantastic position".

The Foxes remain without a win since the season resumed and were knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage by Chelsea on Sunday.

"This is a team that's a work in progress," he said. "This is the first little blip we've had for probably 14 months or so, which I can understand. It's about a process, it always has.

"How the players have developed I've been really pleased with. We would love to win a trophy and our aim this season was European football.

"Unfortunately, we'll have to put the cups on hold for another season but we have given everything we can in them so that will be a learning experience for us.

"With seven games to go, we're still in a fantastic position to achieve what we set out to achieve."

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