Football

Sam Allardyce calls for an English Premier League ‘circuit break’

WBA boss believes league needs to be halted to curb virus spread, as Spurs-Fulham game is postponed

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce has called for a temporary halt to the English Premier League season to act as a "circuit break" amid rising Covid-19 cases at top-flight clubs.

Last night, the English Premier League postponed the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham less than four hours before kick-off, following a number of Covid-19 cases for the Cottagers.

This is the second match postponement this week after an outbreak at Manchester City - just days after Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker tested positive - saw their game at Everton pushed back.

However, City said in a statement last night that first-team training will resume at the City Football Academy, after further testing revealed no new positive cases.

On Tuesday, the EPL said 18 individuals had tested positive for the coronavirus between Dec 21-27, the most in a week this season, with Sheffield United reporting several new cases before their 1-0 defeat by Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Britain is battling a highly infectious variant of the coronavirus and Allardyce said it was time to act.

"Everyone's safety is more important than anything else. When I listen to the news, the variant virus transmits quicker than the original... we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break," said Allardyce, whose side lost 5-0 to Leeds United yesterday morning.

"I'm 66 and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid. I'm very concerned for myself and football... We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche said the league would have to take action if the number of cases continues to rise, while Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter said he would follow official guidelines.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, said a stoppage would put extra pressure on teams with an already packed schedule.

"I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break," Solskjaer said. "When are we going to play the games? We all know this year is so difficult..."

Spurs manager Jose Mourinho expressed frustration as he was still in the dark regarding the status of their match against Fulham, four hours before it was scheduled to kick off.

"Match at 6pm... We still don't know if we play. Best league in the world," he wrote on Instagram.

Not long after he posted that, the EPL postponed the match, saying that Fulham had made the request, but adding that the league continues to have "full confidence in its Covid-19 protocols and being able to continue to play our fixtures as scheduled". - REUTERS

Football