Is the Premier League on the Verge of a COVID Crisis at the Worst Possible Time?

A logistical nightmare (potentially) awaits

Premier League face coverings
The LED screen shows a message telling fans to wear a mask during the match between Crystal Palace and Everton at Selhurst Park on December 12, 2021 in London, England.
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

If you’ve been following the Premier League in recent weeks, you may have noticed an alarming trend: a significant number of players on several teams testing positive for COVID-19. Tottenham Hotspur have been the most affected by it, with Sunday’s match against Brighton postponed and a Europa Conference League match scheduled for last week canceled altogether.

But Spurs aren’t alone — outbreaks have also been reported at Leicester City, Aston Villa and Manchester United. And it seems overly optimistic to think that outbreaks at other teams won’t follow.

The Premier League has been responsive to pandemic concerns, given the aforementioned postponement of the Spurs/Brighton game. But if a significant number of teams find themselves unable to safely play, the league could be in for even more postponements during an already-crowded time of the year.

As NBC Sports noted, we’re currently in the midst of the Premier League’s “festive fixtures.” That translates to each Premier League team playing seven league matches between November 30 and January 2. For teams in playing in other competitions — European club tournaments or domestic cup matches, or both — that number is even higher.

And if a significant number of clubs require rescheduling, the 2022 calendar has a few more challenges in store. This includes a number of international breaks for World Cup qualifiers, as well as the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations — already rescheduled from this summer — which will run for a month from mid-January until early February.

It has all the makings of a logistical nightmare for clubs and league alike. And there’s little that observers can do right now except hope for the best.

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