Everton’s match against Manchester City on Monday was postponed because of a growing Covid-19 outbreak among the City squad and the Toffees will request “full disclosure” of information from the Premier League.
The game was called off four hours before it was due to kick-off at Goodison Park after Manchester City recorded further positive tests of coronavirus.
Manchester City had announced that Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker had tested positive on Christmas Day along with two members of club staff. The club has now closed its first-team training ground, which will undergo a deep clean.
The Everton vs Man City fixture is the second Premier League game to be called off due to a coronavirus outbreak this season after the Aston Villa vs Newcastle fixture earlier this month.
A number of games in the English Football League (EFL) over the festive period have also been postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks, with a further seven games hit on Monday.
“Everton Football Club regret the postponement of tonight’s match against Manchester City – not only for the 2,000 fans who would have been attending, but for supporters on Merseyside and across the world,” a club statement read.
“Our players were prepared for the game, as were both the team staff and everyone at Goodison. Matchday is the most important date in our calendar. And this was a big one.
“Whilst Everton will always have public safety uppermost, we will be requesting full disclosure of all the information that Manchester City provided to the Premier League, so the club can be clear on why this decision was taken.”
A Manchester City statement read: “After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day.
“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.
“All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine. The first team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume.
“Everyone at the club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition.”
City’s players will undergo another Covid-19 test on Tuesday, and the results of the testing will determine whether it is possible for the Chelsea fixture to go ahead.
There is a belief at City that the outbreak has emanated from their trip to London for their Carabao Cup quarter-final against Arsenal on December 22, although no blame is being attached to the Gunners.
London was placed into Tier 4 coronavirus restriction on Sunday, 20 December after a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus was found to be driving increased infection numbers in London and the South East.
A Premier League statement released on Monday afternoon read: “Manchester City lodged a request with the Premier League today to rearrange the game following an increase in positive Covid-19 test results received by the club this morning, on top of the cases reported on Christmas Day.
“This rise has created uncertainty and 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 Tuesday.
“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.
“The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Everton in due course.”