In a statement, the Premier League has announced it is suspending all games until at least April 4th in response to the spread of the Coronavirus.
A host of clubs are dealing with players and staff who have tested positive for the illness, or been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed.
Not least of which is Arsenal, who confirmed last night that manager Mikel Arteta has fallen ill, leading to the entire first team squad being placed in ‘self-isolation’, along with over 100 staff.
Other clubs affected include Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester. UEFA have already postponed next week’s matches in the Champions League and Europa League and say they will make a decision on further steps in due course.
The PL statement reads:
Following a meeting of Shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19.
“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”
Despite the challenges, it is the Premier League’s aim to reschedule the displaced fixtures, including those played by Academy sides, when it is safe to do so.
In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Of course we’ll have to wait and see how successful the efforts to slow the spread of the virus are, and there are no guarantees that by that date everything will be hunky-dory again.