So we wake up this morning with the news that Arsenal fixture tonight against Manchester City has been postponed following Olympiakos’s owner Evangelos Marinakis testing positive for coronavirus.
One it comes to Covid-19, I am very much in the camp of the response being a little bit OTT, however it is a deadly disease and health advice should be followed.
It is the correct decision for Arsenal to isolate all players who came in to contact with Marinakis following the defeat to the Greek side nearly 2 weeks ago. This ensures all players can get tested and reduces the risk of the virus spreading.
The likelihood is all tests will come back as negative and the players will return to training on Friday ahead of the match against Brighton.
But what if one of the tests comes back positive? What implications could this have?
Whilst the Premier League has “banned shaking hands”, football is a contact sport and players are in “close contact” throughout a match. Everytime they mark someone at a corner, or go into a challenge, they would risk getting Covid-19 if the player they are challenging or marking is infected.
So were an Arsenal player to text positive, the result would be the whole London Colney side of the club would have to be put on isolation for 14 days after the last close contact. As players were training yesterday, the 14 days would include the games against Brighton and Sheffield United.
West Ham and Portsmouth would also need to self-isolate, following their fixtures against Arsenal in the last 14 days. For West Ham this would see their games against Wolves and Tottenham postponed.
And from there it snowballs.
We have already seen games in Italy suspended, whilst Spain and France have opted to play games behind closed doors. Ukraine and Poland have also taken the step to play games behind closed doors.
This is all to protect fans rather than players. What the Premier League is facing is a threat to players.
If players being to test positive, playing games behind closed doors will cease being an option. Instead we will see the FA follow Italy’s lead and suspend all games for at least 2 weeks.
This will create a huge fixture pile up, one which will not be easily resolved due to the European tournament this summer. There would be a high chance that the season would be unable to be completed.
In 1939 football was suspended due to World War 2. Blackpool sat top of the league. Just 3 games had been played. We are nearly 30 games in.
Were football to be suspended and the season cancelled, would anyone be named champions? Would they gift the title to Liverpool due to being so far ahead? What about promotion and relegation? European places? There would be a lot that would need to be worked out.
Hopefully it does not come to this, that every Arsenal player is back in training on Friday and our game against Brighton on Saturday goes ahead.
To have a 3pm Saturday away game is novelty this season.