Are fans staying away in fear of being in quarantine at Christmas? Lots of empty seats at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s clash with Everton as Covid cases surge across the UK and Premier League matches called off due to positive tests
As Covid-19 cases surge across the country, the number of empty seats at football stadiums appear to be growing.
The Omicron variant has led to a large increase of Covid-19 cases in the UK, with Wednesday seeing 78,610 people testing positive – the highest daily number since the pandemic began.
It has also affected football with matches getting called off, players missing games due to positive tests and as visible in Chelsea‘s clash with Everton – plenty of empty seats in the grandstands.
The empty seats come as no surprise, especially with the current surge in the UK and with just more than a week to go until Christmas.
There are fears that receiving a positive test now, could mean people are stuck in isolation for the festive period.
Those who test positive for the virus would have to self-isolate for ten days.
There was a large number of empty seats at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea’s clash with Everton
Thomas Tuchel’s side missed a number of key players for the clash with the Toffees.
Mateo Kovacic tested positive last week, while Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and the injured Ben Chilwell all returned positive tests on Wednesday.
That could be a potential reason for the number of empty seats at Stamford Bridge for the game with Everton on Thursday night.
Stamford Bridge holds an attendance of 40,834, but numbers were much fewer than usual
Chelsea’s game with Everton went ahead despite a number of positive Covid cases within the squad
Ahead of the game, BT Sport pundit Glenn Hoddle said: ‘It’s dreadful Covid has come back and affected the world yet alone football. It is what it is. Good the game is on.’
Football is bracing itself for more than a dozen requests for matches to be postponed this weekend amidst the Omicron surge.
In the hour leading up to kick-off at Stamford Bridge, the Premier League in one statement already confirmed games between Southampton and Brentford, Watford and Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich, and Everton and Leicester have been postponed.
Liverpool also reported a number of positive cases with Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Curtis Jones all unavailable for their clash with Newcastle.
There are fears that a positive test now would mean people have to be in quarantine at Christmas
Brentford’s clash at home Manchester United on Tuesday was postponed until the New Year after the visitors were forced to close down their training centre in the build-up to the match.
Meanwhile, Burnley’s match against Watford on Wednesday was called off two hours before kick-off after the Hornets announced an outbreak in their team.
Leicester’s top flight clash with Tottenham, and Saturday matches between Sheffield Wednesday’s and Accrington and Crawley’s encounter with Oldham Athletic have all been called off on Thursday, with officials expecting many more to follow suit.
The Foxes applied to the Premier League once again on Thursday morning to postpone the match with Spurs, after both clubs saw appeals rejected earlier this week. The Foxes have also closed their training ground to deal with the outbreak.
The Premier League is holding daily briefings, while the League Managers’ Association is in regular dialogue with the top flight and EFL as managers seek clarity on a rapidly worsening situation.
Thomas Tuchel’s side didn’t their normal level of backing at Stamford Bridge for understandable reasons
HOW OMICRON HAS THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE
The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker shutdown to help clubs recover. Their training ground has been closed and as a result their trip to Southampton on Saturday has been postponed.
Would have been without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid before the game was postponed – despite initial calls being rejected – hours before kick-off. Their training ground was closed on Thursday morning to contain the outbreak but given they have an insufficient number of players available, their weekend trip to Everton is also off.
Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday due to the outbreak at the club.
Had request to have Wednesday’s game with Wolves postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game. Game with Manchester United has now been postponed.
Dean Smith was facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. The Canaries had discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham and it was agreed to postpone as they have an insufficient number of players available.
Saw the game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. Case numbers currently unknown. With their training ground closed, their home match with Crystal Palace has now been confirmed as postponed.
Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday is postponed despite initial demands to have the game called off were rejected.
After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that three more first-team players had tested positive for Covid, with Mateo Kovacic the first Chelsea player to get the virus this week.
It was confirmed just an hour before kick-off against Newcastle on Thursday night that Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Virgil van Dijk are all out having tested positive for Covid.