Newcastle’s appeal to the Premier League for the postponement of this Friday’s match against Aston Villa due to an internal COVID-19 outbreak has been granted.
In a statement released today Newcastle confirmed what northeast based reporters had been saying.
With the Magpies’ first team currently unable to prepare for the match as a group, Newcastle United lodged a request with the Premier League to postpone the fixture at Villa Park, which has been approved by the Premier League Board.
The match, which was set to kick off at 8pm (GMT) on Friday evening, will now be rescheduled and a new date and time will be confirmed in due course. Newcastle United would like to thank Aston Villa Football Club for its understanding.
The news comes as little surprise to all involved given the timeline an severity of Newcastle’s COVID-19 outbreak.
News initially broke last week that one player and some staff had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Newcastle's match against Chrystal Palace. By Monday morning the number of potentially infected players had grown to at least 5 players, and Newcastle closed their training facility and ordered players to self isolate. With the team not able to train this week and more staff/players finding out they had tested positive for the virus, it was in everyone’s best interest to postpone Newcastle’s trip to Aston Villa.
Right now it is not known which players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, and the club has vowed to not release the names of any players or staff who have contracted the virus. Due to some peculiar exclusions from the squad on Friday Newcastle fans have speculated that players like Isaac Hayden or Emil Krafth might be ones who contracted the virus. Both players have been mainstays in Steve Bruce’s side when healthy, and both were full participants in training at the beginning of last week. There was no speculation that ether player was injured, unlike Allan Saint-Maximin who reportedly picked up a thigh injury or Jamal Lascelles who came off injured against Chelsea, or Andy Carroll who’s time at Tyneside has been one full of injuries.
Newcastle’s COVID-19 outbreak is the first such outbreak to happen in the Premier League. While individual players have had the virus at other clubs, there has not been an outbreak bad enough to result in a postponement of a match. In other leagues like Serie A such outbreaks have occurred with criticism towards the league in how they have responded to the outbreak. Across the pond, team outbreaks and postponements have been commonplace in American sport leagues this year. Most recently in America an American football game that was slated to be played last Thursday has been moved twice and has resulted in a scheduling nightmare for all parties. This is the risk of playing sports during a pandemic. Things are bound to get complicated, and teams/leagues are often scrambling to try to alleviate issues before they become to hard to control.
The Aston Villa vs. Newcastle postponement comes at an unfortunate time for both teams as both teams are entering a crucial and congested part of the PL calendar. Both sides are due to play a host of mid-table and relegation battling sides to close out the year, so a rescheduled match during this congested of a window is another problem each manager will have to sort out.
Newcastle have announced that all their players and staff are self isolating ahead of another round of testing this week. A new date and time for the match has not been announced.