Newcastle United defend 'comprehensive Covid-19 protocols' as virus outbreak sees Aston Villa clash postponed

Newcastle United have defended their ‘comprehensive Covid-19 protocols’ after their request to postpone the Premier League visit to Aston Villa on Friday was confirmed.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: General view inside the stadium prior to  the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Birmingham City Women at Villa Park on November 14, 2020 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: General view inside the stadium prior to the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Birmingham City Women at Villa Park on November 14, 2020 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The Magpies have seen a ‘significant increase’ in coronavirus cases over the last seven days and as a result the club today (Tuesday) put in a request to postpone the fixture. The request was granted by the Premier League board.

And in a statement confirming the news, Newcastle United defended their training ground practices in relation to controlling the spread of the disease.

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It read: “Newcastle United was one of the first clubs in the country to close its training ground prior to the first national lockdown in March and the club introduced comprehensive Covid-19 protocols in line with Premier League and government guidance to protect its players and staff ahead of Project Restart.

“While the club has continued to ensure strict adherence to these protocols, and despite previously experiencing only a very small number of isolated Covid-19 cases, positive test results have risen sharply in recent days.”

Newcastle United have reportedly seen FIVE players test positive in the last seven days, up from three prior to the Crystal Palace win. It is also reported that TWO coaching staff have also contracted the virus as the outbreak at United continues to worsen.

Some reports have that number as high as 10 positive cases.

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No date has been set for the rearranged fixture.

The club’s statement in full reads: “Newcastle United's Premier League fixture at Aston Villa on Friday, 4th December has been postponed following a significant increase in Covid-19 cases at the Magpies' Training Centre.

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“Several Newcastle United players and staff members are now self-isolating at home after returning positive test results in recent days and the club's Training Centre site has been temporarily closed in order to contain the spread of the virus.

“With the Magpies' first team currently unable to prepare for the match as a group, Newcastle United lodged a request with the Premier League to postpone the fixture at Villa Park, which has been approved by the Premier League Board.

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“The match, which was set to kick off at 8pm (GMT) on Friday evening, will now be rescheduled and a new date and time will be confirmed in due course. Newcastle United would like to thank Aston Villa Football Club for its understanding.

“Newcastle United was one of the first clubs in the country to close its training ground prior to the first national lockdown in March and the club introduced comprehensive Covid-19 protocols in line with Premier League and government guidance to protect its players and staff ahead of Project Restart.

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“Accordingly, the club is now is working with Public Health England North East (PHE), local health authorities and the Premier League in line with Covid-19 protocols to identify the source of the outbreak and to ensure the risk of further transmission continues to be minimised.

“All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and a meeting between the club, Premier League and PHE will take place to assess the test results.

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“The club will not be naming individuals who have contracted Covid-19 and asks that their privacy is respected.”