(Reuters) – Fulham’s Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur that was scheduled to kick off at 1800 GMT on Wednesday has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the West London club, the league said.
The match is the third in the English top flight to be postponed due to COVID-19 cases after Newcastle United’s trip to Aston Villa earlier this month was called off, as was Monday’s match between Everton and Manchester City.
“Fulham lodged a request with the Premier League Board to rearrange the fixture following a significant rise in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as a number of players showing symptoms today,” the league said in a statement here.
“The Premier League Board has consulted its medical advisors and the decision to postpone the game has been taken as a precaution and with the health of players and staff as the priority. The group will now be retested immediately.”
The league said the fixture would be rearranged but did not give a new date.
Fulham said a number of players and members of the first team staff had returned positive tests and were now self-isolating.
Both Newcastle and City reported COVID-19 outbreaks at their clubs which had also forced them to lodge requests with the Premier League.
Four hours before the game was scheduled to kick off, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho said he was still in the dark regarding the status of the match.
“Match at 6 pm … We still don’t know if we play. Best league in the world,” he wrote on Instagram here.
On Tuesday, the Premier League said 18 individuals had tested positive for the new coronavirus, the most in a week this season, with bottom side Sheffield United also reporting a number of fresh cases in their camp.
However, the Blades’ match at Burnley on Tuesday went ahead with only the players testing positive going into self-isolation.
Fulham boss Scott Parker was forced to work from home over the weekend when they played Southampton as he was self-isolating following a positive COVID-19 test in his household.
Parker was set to return to the dugout on Wednesday after a negative test at the weekend.
Despite the league’s rising number of COVID-19 cases — 131 individuals in 17 rounds of testing this season — the league added it was confident its protocols would enable fixtures to be played as scheduled.
There have been calls for a temporary halt to the season even as the league looks to complete its fixtures in the festive period — traditionally the busiest time of the year — but opinion is split among managers.
West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce, 66, wanted a pause to act as a “circuit break”, saying he feared contracting COVID-19 with Britain battling a highly infectious variant of the novel coronavirus.
However, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he did not see the benefits of a break with fixtures piling up amid a packed schedule of league and cup competitions.
Reporting by Rohith Nair and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet and Christian Radnedge