Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford postponed due to Covid-19 cases
Liverpool and Leeds United's scheduled meeting at Anfield for Boxing Day has been called off - as has Watford's game against Wolves due to Covid-19 outbreaks.
Liverpool's Boxing Day clash with Leeds United and Watford's trip to Wolves have both been postponed due to Covid-19 outbreaks.
Injury-hit Leeds managed to field a weakened team in a 1-4 defeat at Arsenal last Saturday, but five positive coronavirus cases within the first-team squad and staff have left Marcelo Biela's side unable to fulfil Sunday's game. Leeds have subsequently closed their Thorp Arch training ground, with the positive cases all asymptomatic currently, while Watford continue to have insufficient numbers to visit Wolves on the same day.
Claudio Ranieri's side have already had to postpone games against Burnley and Crystal Palace due to an outbreak of the virus at the club, but Watford are expected to fulfil their fixture against West Ham on Tuesday with numerous players out of isolation.
Premier League statement
"The board today was able to make its decisions in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their supporters," the Premier League's statement said on Thursday. "We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those fans' festive plans. The league is aware that the decision to postpone these two matches will disappoint supporters and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games. The league aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is the priority. The league will endeavour to keep supporters updated if matches become at risk on a matchday."
The postponement of the two early kick-offs on Boxing Day follows the calling off of six of the 10 scheduled Premier League games last weekend, though Wolves, Liverpool and Leeds were all in action.
An emergency meeting between top-flight clubs followed on Monday to discuss the challenges brought on by Covid-19, but the league confirmed scheduled fixtures would continue across the festive period. The league said applications for postponements are being considered on a case-by-case basis with emergency measures reintroduced in light of the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in England.
"The board will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match," the statement continued. "The board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution."
In the United Kingdom, 106,122 people tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, taking the seven-day rolling figure to 643,219.