Newcastle United will play on over Christmas after Premier League Covid-19 decision
Newcastle United will play on over Christmas after Premier League clubs chose to fulfil their festive fixtures.
There were calls to suspend top-flight fixtures because of Covid-19 outbreaks at a number of clubs.
The league’s 20 clubs met today to discuss the challenges thrown up by the latest wave of infections. However, clubs didn’t vote on postponing the next two rounds of games, and, if teams have 13 fit players plus a goalkeeper, they will be expected to fulfil their fixtures.
Six of the 10 weekend games were called off amid spiking cases of the Omicron variant across the country, and number of managers, including Brentford’s Thomas Frank, had called for a so-called “festive firebreak”.
Newcastle – who face Manchester United at St James’s Park on December 27 – didn’t have any positive cases on their last round of PCR tests, according to Eddie Howe.
“I’m led to believe that we’ve had no Covid cases,” said United’s head coach.
Howe, however, would not be drawn on the club’s stance towards a break after yesterday’s 4-0 loss to Premier League leaders Manchester City at St James’s Park.
"In terms of our stance, that’s something that I’ve not necessarily been involved with in terms of giving an opinion,” said Howe. “We’re being told what to do, following the guidelines and concentrating on the football.”
Howe, however, gave his own view on the mass postponements after last week’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool at Anfield.
“I think the key thing for me, just my opinion, is that I don’t want half the games played and half the games not played,” said Howe. “I think the league loses something if it becomes disjointed in terms of the number of games played.
"A decision needs to be made for the benefit of the league to make sure there’s integrity of the competition. That would be my view on it. I don’t think we can have half the games played and half the games not played.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said a circuit-breaker would only be useful if all players and staff get booster vaccinations.
“I don’t know, if someone tells me that (a break) is the solution, I’m in – 100%,” said Klopp. “But if we just stop it and don’t do anything, then I don’t see the benefit.”