The Premier League has had to deal with postponements a-plenty across its three decades – but never have so many matches been called off as in the past two and a half seasons.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, matches being cancelled have become common. Luckily, we've managed to avoid another complete shutdown of the competition – like we first had in March 2019 – but postpones still littered the Christmas schedule, as omicron swept through the country.
Matches getting called off for adverse weather conditions do still happen, too – just take a look at Burnley vs Tottenham before Christmas, with Sean Dyche standing pitchside, coatless, surveying the snowy scene with a wry grin across his chops.
When it comes to COVID, however, protocols have to be observed.
"The Premier League Board always aims to make their evaluations quickly, giving as much warning to fans as possible, but there will be circumstances where games are postponed at short notice if there are issues on a matchday," The Premier League says.
"The health and safety of everybody remains our priority. Where possible, the League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk of being postponed on a matchday.
"It is the responsibility of the Board to decide whether matches should be postponed for COVID-19 reasons. Clubs may apply to the Premier League if they believe that a match should be postponed in accordance with the Premier League’s rules and postponement guidance."
Ultimately, a match will be called off – according to the Premier League – when a club is unable to field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper for a match due to COVID-19 infections, injuries, illness and/or those isolating. During the Africa Cup of Nations, this will include players away for international duty.
If the status of a COVID-19 outbreak in a team's squad still isn't resolves – not all COVID infections can be resolved before kick-off if symptoms are present, for example – then a game will be postponed in this case, too.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. He is a keen player of the Football Manager series and creates Twitter accounts for his Fantasy Premier League team every year, before losing interest in his team every September.
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