Thomas Frank wants to ensure Boxing Day fixtures go ahead by calling for the weekend's full round of Premier League fixtures and next week's Carabao Cup matches to be postponed; Southampton vs Brentford one of five top-flight games called off this weekend
Thursday 16 December 2021 23:09, UK
Brentford boss Thomas Frank wants this weekend's full round of Premier League fixtures postponed to "break the chain" on the current Covid crisis.
Speaking ahead of his side's trip to Southampton which was subsequently postponed due to an outbreak in the Brentford camp, Frank said he had been in touch with the Premier League, as well as other managers who were in agreement.
Brentford's clash with Manchester United on Tuesday was also postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the United camp, and Frank feels drastic action is needed to ensure the problem does not get any worse.
"We think we should postpone the full round of Premier League games this weekend," he said on Thursday morning.
"Covid cases are going through the roof at all Premier League clubs, everyone is dealing with it and having problems.
"To postpone this round and also the Carabao Cup round would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain."
Frank believes a decision to halt this weekend's round of top-flight fixtures could be enough to ensure the busy festive programme will be able to go ahead largely as planned.
"We fully respect that we want to play and it is important football keeps going, and this way we can make sure Boxing Day keeps going, I'm 100 per cent sure of that," added Frank.
"This Omicron variant is running like wildfire around the world and I think we need to do all we can to protect and avoid it. I think we can do a lot by closing down training grounds for three, four or five days, and then we can go again."
Burnley's clash with Watford was postponed - with the announcement coming just two-and-a-half hours before the scheduled kick-off time - due to an outbreak in the Hornets' squad.
Clarets defender Matt Lowton was asked at a press conference on Thursday what he made of Frank's suggestion, and he said: "I'm not sure, to be honest.
"From my point of view, I just want to play football. I think from a player's point of view, we want to play - we want to come to the weekend and have the game [at Aston Villa on Saturday], have the buzz, that's what we've trained for
"But obviously the safety of players, fans and things like that is paramount. So hopefully the game can go ahead, but I can see why - I suppose if they did call it like that, you can see where they are coming from. Hopefully we can go ahead as safely as possible."
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says he only wants players with an "open mind" after criticising the high number of unvaccinated footballers.
Figures for the 72 English Football League clubs revealed 25 per cent of players across the Championship, League One and League Two do not intend to have a Covid-19 jab.
A series of coronavirus outbreaks has led to the postponement of a host of fixtures across England's top four divisions this weekend.
Almost every member of Hasenhuttl's squad has been vaccinated and the south coast club has so far been relatively untroubled by the virus, prompting the Austrian to praise the mindsets of his players.
"It is too high a percentage in my opinion," he replied, when asked about the EFL figures. "I can only speak about our club, and we have a nearly 100 per cent vaccination rate. This is all we can do.
"I do not know if this is the reason that we have no cases here, but I am very happy we have a different mindset. I feel safer in an environment like this.
"We have done a lot of talking, a lot of convincing and in the end, it is about the players having an open mind.
"If you want to play in this club, you need to have an open mind and this is always helpful because you get some other information about what you want to do or what you should do.
"We do not have one case at the moment and hopefully it will stay like this. All we have done so far has helped us to stay safe."
Five Premier League games have been called off inside five days so far but a string of fixtures across other competitions have also been postponed.
Tottenham vs Rennes - Thursday December 9 - Europa Conference League
Brighton vs Tottenham - Sunday December 12 - Premier League
Sheffield Utd vs QPR - Monday December 13 - Championship
Brentford vs Man Utd - Tuesday December 14 - Premier League
Burnley vs Watford - Wednesday December 15 - Premier League
Man City Women vs Leicester City Women - Wednesday December 15 - League Cup
Leicester vs Tottenham - Thursday December 16 - Premier League
Manchester United vs Brighton - Saturday December 18 - Premier League
Southampton vs Brentford - Saturday December 18 - Premier League
Watford v Crystal Palace - Saturday December 18 - Premier League
West Ham United vs Norwich City - Saturday December 18 - Premier League
Everton vs Leicester City - Sunday December 19 - Premier League
QPR vs Swansea - Saturday December 18 - Championship
Reading vs Luton - Saturday December 18 - Championship
Millwall vs Preston - Saturday December 18 - Championship
Coventry vs Stoke - Saturday December 18 - Championship
Gillingham vs Crewe - Saturday December 18 - League One
Crawley vs Oldham - Saturday December 18 - League Two
Barrow vs Northampton - Saturday December 18 - League Two
The 2021/22 Premier League handbook includes Covid protocols, and states the Premier League's board will "only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances".
The board make calls on a case-by-case basis, and by way of guidance the Premier League says permission for a postponement will not be granted if a club have 14 or more players from their squad list available.
Graham Potter revealed Brighton were unsuccessful in getting their trip to Wolves - a 1-0 defeat - postponed, while Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers expressed his "disappointment" at the Premier League's refusal to postpone his side's match with Tottenham on Thursday as the club deal with a Covid-19 outbreak - 24 hours before the game was eventually called off.