Manchester United’s game against Brentford on Tuesday night has been called into question after a training session scheduled for Sunday was impacted by a number of positive Covid-19 tests.
Lateral flow testing followed Saturday’s win over Norwich City and affected a small number of players and staff. Those who tested positive on Sunday morning were sent home and training was tailored to individual or non-contact work.
The Premier League is aware of the situation and United’s game against Brentford has yet to be postponed, but there will now be concerns about the possibility of the kind of outbreak Tottenham Hotspur experienced last week.
The rise in the number of cases and the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant prompted the Premier League to write to clubs last week and call for emergency measures, including increased social distancing in training, masks indoors and a passage to three tests per week.
The English Football League has reintroduced similar measures and is continuing a campaign to get more players vaccinated amid a current adoption of around 75%.
Eight Tottenham players and five staff members were revealed to have tested positive on Wednesday. Their next meetings against Rennes in the Europa League on Thursday and against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Sunday did not take place.
Premier League teams must follow government guidelines regarding Covid, which means players and staff identified as close contacts of anyone who tests positive for the Omicron variant must self-isolate for 10 days (or, at from Tuesday, take a daily lateral flow test).
Queens Park Rangers were also forced to postpone their league game against Sheffield United on Monday following several positive tests among players and staff. They told the English Football League they did not have enough numbers to fill the match and, although there is now an investigation into the circumstances, they expect to announce a postponed date shortly.
West Bromwich Albion was also hit by an outbreak on Saturday, with four defenders testing positive ahead of their 1-0 win over Reading.
Premier League clubs are now going through routine lateral flow testing rather than the more sensitive PCR testing. There is no compulsory test in the EFL.
Clubs are also expected to hear more details on Monday about the new Covid passes they will require from fans attending games as part of the government’s new “Plan B” measures. Fans must either be double-bitten or have tested negative for Covid-19 on a lateral flow test. The new rules will apply to crowds of more than 10,000 and should only be applied with spot checks after clubs have said it would not be practical to subject every fan to an individual check.