Newcastle United‘s Premier League clash with Aston Villa on Friday has become the first English top-flight game to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak after a “significant increase” in COVID-19 cases at the club.
Newcastle’s Darsley Park training ground has been closed since Monday as a response to several players and staff members being forced to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.
With manager Steve Bruce’s playing squad severely impacted by the outbreak, Newcastle informed the Premier League of their difficulties in honouring their commitment to play Friday’s game at Villa Park and the league has confirmed that they have now granted their request to postpone the game.
“Following a Premier League Board meeting today, Newcastle United’s fixture at Aston Villa, due to be played at 8 p.m. Friday 4 December, has been postponed,” a Premier League statement said.
“Newcastle lodged a request with the Premier League to rearrange the game following a significant increase in COVID-19 cases at the club which resulted in Public Health England North East (PHE) advising that their training facilities remain closed.
“The Premier League Board agreed, as a consequence, that the club are unable to train and adequately and safely prepare for their match on Friday.
“The decision has been taken in consultation with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and following extensive consultation with PHE and Premier League medical advisors, with the health of players and staff the priority.
“Newcastle correctly notified PHE regarding a number of positive COVID-19 test results, which is standard practice under Government and Premier League guidelines.
“PHE convened a meeting with Newcastle and the Premier League yesterday to assess the situation and advised the club’s training ground should remain closed and no group training would be permitted between players until Friday at the earliest.
“All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and another meeting between the club, PHE and the Premier League will take place to assess the test results.
“The Premier League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Aston Villa in due course.”
Premier League clubs test players and coaching staff at least twice a week in order to comply with COVID-19 protocols.
On Monday, the league confirmed that 10 positive results had been recorded from 1,381 players and staff in the most recent round of testing.