The Premier League is postponing two further matches scheduled for Tuesday (Dec. 28), taking their tally to 15 games over the course of the season postponed due to COVID-19. The postponements come amid growing scrutiny over how the English top flight decides which fixtures can be scrubbed off the list.
The postponement of Leeds vs. Aston Villa has already been confirmed by the Premier League whilst club sources have indicated to CBS Sports that the league will soon announce that Arsenal vs. Wolves will not take place due to COVID-19 cases in the latter’s squad.
Leeds had their second postponement in two days. They had their Boxing Day clash with Liverpool delayed due to a combination of five coronavirus cases, illness and injuries that left them short of the 13 outfield players and goalkeeper required. Hours earlier Crystal Palace had their request to put on ice Sunday’s game against Tottenham rejected. The Eagles were hit with COVID-19 cases that included head coach Patrick Vieira but were instructed to make the trip to north London, where Spurs won 3-0.
The Premier League does not have a set number of COVID positive cases that will force a game postponement and indicated to clubs in a meeting last week that six key factors are under consideration when postponing games, including: availability of senior players and experienced youngsters, whether players are able to train safely, the sequencing of any outbreak within the club, and medical advice.
When the status of a club’s COVID-19 outbreak is not clear prior to kickoff, the Premier League board has previously chosen to postpone a game.
A statement from the league said: “Following a request from Leeds United, the Premier League board met today and regrettably agreed to postpone the club’s home fixture against Aston Villa, due to be played at 17:30 GMT on Tuesday 28 December.
“The board was able to make its decision in advance of the match to give clarity to the affected clubs and their fans. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to supporters’ festive plans.
“The postponement is a result of the ongoing COVID-19 cases and injuries at Leeds which saw their Boxing Day match against Liverpool called off. The Board accepted the postponement application as the club does not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper).”
Leeds added that though there had been no additional cases beyond the five that prompted the postponement of the Liverpool game the majority of those players were still isolating.