UPDATE, 4p GMT Tuesday 29th Dec: There have been two interesting developments on Tuesday that continue to throw into doubt how well-prepared the Premier League are to handle COVID outbreaks in playing squads, and how their inconsistent decision-making is causing frustration among Clubs and supporters alike.
Early in the day the Premier League announced that this has been the worst week of positives since widespread testing of players and Club staff began, with 1,479 tests being conducted between Monday 21 December and Sunday 27 December yielding 18 new positives.
It now appears that the bulk of those 18 are among Manchester City and Sheffield United, yet the Blades game at Burnley today will continue as scheduled while the Blues saw their game against City yesterday postponed? Double standards?
After Everton's home game tonight against Manchester City was called off due to a number of visiting players returning positive COVID tests earlier today, there has been some valid concern from the Toffees about how the decision was reached, and especially that Everton Football Club were not consulted on the decision.
It appears that Manchester City asked for the postponement and the Premier League Board granted it, only informing the Blues after the decision was made.
This decision smacks of double-standards especially considering lower league opposition Leyton Orient were forced to forfeit their League Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur for a similar outbreak, but the true mistake seems to have been made by the league earlier when they postponed the Newcastle United against Aston Villa fixture instead of awarding a forfeiture.
Before the start of the season, the Premier League had issued the following statements regarding any positive COVID tests that would mar the successful completion of any fixture.
Many questions from the Everton fanbase about why Manchester City were not forced to play, or forfeit today's game.— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) December 28, 2020
Here's a Premier League statement from earlier this season (h/t @Evertoningen)#EFC #EVEMCI pic.twitter.com/zKKwVJodEe
However, the Echo are also reporting that the Toffees were not part of the decision made by the league Board and were only informed about the cancellation after the decision was already made, and that the Club were looking for further explanation from the Board regarding this.
The statement released by the league simply said the game was being postponed similar to what happened with Newcastle at Aston Villa earlier this month.
... the Premier League Board received medical advice that the match should be postponed.
The Board agreed to rearrange the game as a precaution, and further testing will now take place tomorrow.
The decision has been taken with the health of players and staff the priority.
The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them.
Everton confirmed on their website that they were merely spectators in the process of making this decision, and were only informed after the postponement was confirmed.
Following a Premier League Board Meeting this afternoon, Everton Football Club has been informed that tonight’s fixture against Manchester City has been postponed on medical grounds due to an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Manchester City squad.
There was always the expectation that we were only a step away from schedule chaos should a large COVID breakout occur this season, and now that appears to be happening, with City now having to close their training facilities for the next fortnight and no games possible for a minimum amount of two weeks too.