And they’re off! Football has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The decision was taken at a meeting of the great and the good on Friday, with an indefinite – and inevitable – suspension of games. Confirmation that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had tested positive led first
And they’re off! Football has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the great and the good on Friday, with an indefinite – and inevitable – suspension of games.
Confirmation that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had tested positive led first to the cancellation of the Blues’ traditional Friday lunchtime press conference at Cobham.
But it was soon clear that the notion of a million supporters criss-crossing the country this weekend was a no-no as Britain’s footballing authorities woke up to the severity of the contagion outbreak, and all football was abandoned for three weeks.
If, as scientists say, the UK is just a few weeks behind Italy in terms of the national effect of coronavirus, then public health considerations have to come before sporting events.
A brief statement from Chelsea’s press team, released at 7am on Friday, said that the club’s training ground “will undergo a partial closure after a men’s team player tested positive for COVID-19”.
That was merely a foretaste of what was to come. By 11am, word was emerging that all elite football in England (and Tottenham!) had been suspended until at least April 3 as a result of the spreading coronavirus.
The suspension covers all Premier League games, football league fixtures and matches in the FA Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, including the Everton v Chelsea Women FA Cup quarter-final, due to have been played on Sunday.
Chelsea’s away Champions League game, scheduled for Wednesday March 18 against Bayern Munich, was going to take place in an empty stadium… but has now been called off altogether.
UEFA will put off a decision on possible rearrangement, or may prematurely halt the tournament altogether. Selfishly, that would suit Chelsea! The Blues were completely outclassed at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, and sparing fans, players and management the inevitable humiliation in Bavaria could be viewed as a rather convenient let-off!
All other Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Youth League matches have been postponed.
The Premier League said action would resume on April 4 “subject to medical advice and conditions at the time”.
England’s games against Italy on March 27 and Denmark four days after that are also off.
Player appearances, training ground visits, fan meetings… everything has been put on hold.