Numerous games across the Championship, League One and League Two have been called off in recent weeks, due to a rise in Covid cases – with some only being postponed hours before kick-off
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The English Football League ( EFL ) are said to have decided to scrap on-the-day Covid testing to try and halt last-minute postponements.
Under the new protocols, as reported by the Sun, no player will be tested on a matchday unless they are showing symptoms.
The move is coming into force immediately after a clutch of games were called off on the day of the match – providing a lack of clarity to supporters travelling to games.
The report says that the move has been backed by the medical experts who do not think there is any risk involved by avoiding the ‘on-the-day’ tests.
It is hoped this new decision will allow better forward planning, if indeed games have to be called off due to Covid outbreaks.
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A number of EFL clubs have seen games postponed in recent weeks due to Covid outbreaks
The most recent example of a game being called off late in the day saw Blackburn Rovers’ trip to Hull City cancelled barely two hours before kick-off.
The Boxing Day clash was cancelled at just before 1pm – with thousands of Rovers’ fans either already in Hull or on their way to the stadium.
Hull’s vice-chair Ehab Allam insisted that his side were merely following EFL protocols.
He said: “At the point of the decision, we’re just complying with the league rules. We have to test every day, we’ve had multiple cases this week.
The new rules will mean no repeat of a game being called off hours before kick-off – as was the case for Blackburn’s Boxing Day trip to Hull
“We do want to put games on, it’s the Boxing Day match in the festive period – it was a bumper crowd and we really wanted to put the game on, but we do have to comply with the government legislation which then filters down into the Football League legislation.
“Everybody is motivated to put the game on, let’s be clear on that.
“Nobody wants to cancel the game a couple of hours before kick-off, so it’s a very, very difficult decision to make but we do have to comply with the rules and we certainly don’t want to be breaching any rules because that may impact the games going forward, we have to be very mindful of that.
“When you’re having to test every day and in some cases to mitigate the risk by increasing the testing up to twice a day, then I think with the rules in place, we’re almost looking for a problem.
The rules are too tight, I think they should be relaxed a little bit, but at the end of the day I’m not setting the rules and I have to comply with them, it’s difficult for everybody and I appreciate that, it isn’t a situation we wanted to be in.
“We’d rather play the game.”
As per all Covid-related postponements, the EFL will investigate the exact circumstances surrounding the cancellation.
Boxing Day saw a plethora of games called off whilst the midweek schedule in the EFL was also decimated. Just nine games went ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.
Similarly, six games across all three divisions that were due to be played this coming Saturday and Sunday have already been postponed.
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