Everton v Newcastle joins growing list of Covid postponements

Dave Tickner
A general view of Goodison Park, home of Everton Football Club

Everton’s match against Newcastle on Thursday has been postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the Magpies squad, the Premier League has announced.

Newcastle had gone into Monday’s clash against Manchester United with their squad already depleted by positive tests and injuries, then also losing Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin to injury during the 1-1 draw.

A statement from the Premier League on Tuesday evening read: “Everton’s match against Newcastle at Goodison Park, due to be played at 1930 on Thursday December 30, has regrettably been postponed.

“The board accepted Newcastle’s postponement application as the club does not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), due to Covid-19 cases and injuries.

“The board was able to make its decision in advance of the fixture to give clarity to the affected clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters’ festive plans.”

The postponement is the latest to impact on the top-flight schedule, with Tuesday’s games between Arsenal and Wolves as well as Leeds versus Aston Villa also not able to be played.

“The league is aware that the decisions in the last week to postpone matches will disappoint supporters, and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games,” the Premier League statement continued.

“The league aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is our priority. Where possible, the league will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk on a matchday.

“The board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and adapted Covid-19 postponement guidance, implemented in light of the new omicron variant.

“The board will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with.”

The number of matches originally scheduled for Wednesday but postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks mounted throughout Tuesday, with 19 in England now having been called off.

The Yorkshire derby between Sheffield United and Hull, in the Sky Bet Championship, was among those to fall victim.

Just 11 fixtures remain on across the divisions, including both scheduled games in the Premier League. Leaders Manchester City are due to visit Brentford while third-placed Chelsea are at home to Brighton.

Hull announced their trip to Bramall Lane had joined a list of postponed Championship games which already included Birmingham v Peterborough, Reading v Fulham and Swansea v Luton.

League One has now seen the postponement of six games. Those already called off at Burton and Charlton were joined on Tuesday by the MK Dons v Cheltenham, Plymouth v Portsmouth, Wigan v Fleetwood and Rotherham v Lincoln fixtures.

Plymouth have also had their New Year’s Day clash with AFC Wimbledon called off, while Fleetwood’s trip to Sunderland on January 2 has gone the same way.

Rotherham confirmed their postponement in a statement explaining Lincoln had fallen victim to a Covid outbreak.

“Lincoln City informed the Millers and the EFL on Tuesday afternoon that they would be unable to fulfil the fixture at AESSEAL New York Stadium due to a number of positive Covid-19 cases in their squad,” read a Rotherham statement.

“At present, Rotherham are not aware of any positive cases within our own playing squad.”

League Two has been hit particularly hard with only two of the planned 11 fixtures remaining.

Tranmere’s visit to Hartlepool, Colchester’s trip to Sutton and the clash between Rochdale and Port Vale were the latest to go.

Colchester have also been hit by Covid-19 and the club said in a statement: “Like the Orient fixture on Boxing Day, everything possible was done to ensure that the fixture could take place but injuries and positive Covid-19 cases within the U’s squad meant there isn’t the sufficient number of players available in order to fulfil the fixture.”