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Premier League rules out private supplies of coronavirus vaccine for clubs

Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020
(Image credit: Ash Donelon/Manchester United Football Club)

The Premier League continues to rule out attempting to source a private supply of coronavirus vaccine despite a recent flurry of postponements of top-flight matches.

The PA news agency learned at the start of December that the league had ruled out any move to secure its own supply, and it is understood recent developments have not changed that position.

The league is understood to believe that the most vulnerable in society should receive the vaccine first, and in any case, at present, demand outstrips supply and governments around the world have bought up stocks before manufacturers have even produced them.

It is understood clubs have expressed a willingness to assist with the rollout of vaccines, which will now be able to take place on a much greater scale following the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday.

Brighton are understood to be willing to help in any way they can if approached to do so.

The Premier League put out a statement on Wednesday night insisting that there were no plans to pause the season, or even any discussions over such a move, despite two games being called off so far this week.

Manchester City’s match against Everton on Monday was postponed due to coronavirus, and so too was Fulham’s match at Tottenham on Wednesday.

The league reported 18 positive cases on Monday from its most recent round of testing of players and staff, the highest number since testing began as part of Project Restart in the summer.

But the Premier League statement added: “The league continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled, and these protocols continue to have the full backing of Government.

“With the health of players and staff the priority, the league is also fully supportive of how clubs are implementing the protocols and rules.”

The Premier League later confirmed dates for two matches postponed at the start of the season.

Burnley and Manchester United will face each other on January 12, in a match live on Sky Sports, while Manchester City’s match against Aston Villa will be played on January 20 on BT Sport.

The matches, due to be played in September, were postponed to allow the Manchester clubs more preparation time after their exertions during the Champions League and Europa League in August.

Shrewsbury and Fleetwood became the latest clubs to inform the EFL of their inability to fulfil fixtures. The Shrews’ Sky Bet League One match against Crewe on Saturday has been suspended, as have Fleetwood’s matches against Ipswich on January 4 and Sunderland on January 9.

Four of the next round of matches in League One have now been called off.

The recent spate of postponements and rise in infections has placed question marks over how many of next month’s FA Cup third round ties will be played as scheduled.

All clubs involved will face testing beforehand. PA understands testing for non-Premier League clubs will be paid for by the Professional Game Board.

The EFL said on December 22 that it would also undertake its next round of mandatory, league-wide testing, which is done at strategic times throughout the season, in the week beginning January 4.