A Covid-19 outbreak within the Watford squad has led to an abrupt postponement of their Premier League game at Burnley on Wednesday evening.
Burnley announced the fixture was suddenly off just two and a half hours before kick-off, with a follow-up Premier League statement apologising for the “inconvenience and disruption” a late cancellation has caused to supporters.
The Clarets said in a brief statement: “Burnley can confirm the match against Watford has been postponed due to an ongoing Covid outbreak within the opposition squad.”
This is the third top-flight match to be shelved because of coronavirus in a matter of days, with a number of cases at Tottenham and Manchester United leading to games against Brighton and Brentford respectively being called off.
Watford head coach Claudio Ranieri gave no indication this was a possible scenario when running the rule over his side – who sit 17th, one place and two points above Burnley – at his pre-match press conference earlier this week.
But the Premier League confirmed the Hornets had “an insufficient number of first-team players available to fulfil the match”. It is as yet unclear how many coronavirus cases the club have.
The league said in a statement: “It is with regret the Premier League board has postponed Burnley’s home fixture against Watford.
“The decision was taken following guidance from medical advisers due to an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak within Watford’s squad. As a result, the club has an insufficient number of first-team players available to fulfil the match.
“The Premier League understands this decision will disappoint and frustrate fans who were due to attend this evening’s game and apologises for the inconvenience and disruption caused at such short notice.
“In considering any application to postpone, the board considers a range of sporting and medical factors. Each decision is taken on a case-by-case basis with everyone’s health of utmost importance.”
Clubs have been ordered to reinstate emergency measures by the league in the wake of a season-high 42 positive Covid cases being recorded last week, including the wearing of face masks and observing social distancing, while players and staff need to take a lateral flow test every time they want to enter their side’s training ground.
It is understood there is no official threshold for the number of positive cases that would cause a game to be called off, with the Premier League board considering each set of circumstances individually.