After a hugely stressful and frustrating nine months for football clubs thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, many are getting back on their feet again with some even able to admit supporters through the turnstiles.
The coronavirus pandemic is, however, still wreaking its havoc, both in a financial sense and also the virulence with which the virus is still being passed around.
To that end, when Sunderland reported a Covid-19 outbreak which left them without eight first team players, you would’ve thought that the English Football League would postpone their match against Wimbledon.
The Daily Mail report that although that offer was made, the powers that be also countered it by suggesting that there would be an investigation.
Sunderland therefore felt that, not knowing what sanctions they may have faced as a result of their actions, they had no other option but to play Tuesday night’s game. Ahead of the match, they released a statement on their official website.
Sunderland AFC will be without eight first-team players when they host AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday evening following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Academy of Light.
After displaying symptoms of coronavirus on Sunday, one senior player has returned a positive test for Covid-19 and is currently observing a period of isolation.
In line with Government advice, seven other first-team players are also self-isolating at home – two of which have displayed symptoms – after coming into close proximity with the individual that has tested positive.
Due to the severity of the impact this has had on the team’s preparations for Tuesday’s match, the club explored the option of postponing the fixture and engaged in extensive dialogue with the EFL.
Disappointingly, an agreement couldn’t be reached due to the lack of clarity regarding potential sanctions SAFC could face in the event that the fixture was unfulfilled.
The club introduced wide-ranging protocols to protect its players and staff following the initial outbreak of coronavirus in the United Kingdom in March, including the closure of the Stadium of Light and the Academy of Light.
Since returning to training ahead of the 2020-21 season, SAFC has continued to follow these comprehensive protocols to the letter and adhered to all of the latest advice and guidance provided by the Government and the EFL.
The club will not be naming individuals who are currently self-isolating and asks that their privacy is respected.
Considering that such a move could have further consequences if more positive tests emerge as a result, the EFL themselves will come under scrutiny for insisting that the fixture was fulfilled.