A number of outbreaks at clubs up and down the country has resulted in more cancellations in the busy festive period, after just 15 games took place on Boxing Day
The ongoing rise in coronavirus cases continues to play havoc with football’s festive schedule.
Boxing Day saw mass cancellations across the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two. So much so that only nine games took place across all three divisions of the EFL.
A further four games are being played on Monday, including Newcastle versus Manchester United.
But with clubs set to play another matchday before the New Year, the knock-on effect is still seeing matches postponed.
At present, 14 games due to be played between Tuesday and Thursday have already been called off.
One of those to be cancelled is Birmingham’s Championship clash at home to Peterborough with Lee Bowyer’s side saying they don’t have “a sufficient number of players available”.
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A statement from Birmingham said: “With a short turnaround time between fixtures, there was insufficient window for players to return from isolation or recover from injury.
“Once again, the number of Covid-19 cases within the men’s first-team group meet the EFL threshold.”
Swansea’s meeting with Luton, which was due to be staged behind closed doors after the Welsh government imposed fresh restrictions, is also off.
Clubs will be eager to avoid calling games off late in the day, as was the case on Boxing Day with Hull’s clash with Blackburn.
Hull were already carrying a significant number of positive coronavirus cases, and tests on Boxing Day morning revealed a further clutch of positives.
However, the timing of the cancellation announcement – two hours before kick-off – proved a controversial one. Thousands of Blackburn fans had either already arrived at the MKM Stadium or were in situ on coaches or in cars.
Blackburn have since confirmed that they have requested a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the late call-off.
Hull’s vice-chairman Ehab Allam insisted that his side were merely following EFL protocols – and believes the rules should “be relaxed a little bit”.
Speaking to local radio, he said: “We do want to put games on, it’s the Boxing Day match in the festive period – it was a bumper crowd and we really wanted to put the game on, but we do have to comply with the government legislation which then filters down into the Football League legislation.
“Nobody wants to cancel the game a couple of hours before kick-off, so it’s a very, very difficult decision to make but we do have to comply with the rules and we certainly don’t want to be breaching any rules because that may impact the games going forward, we have to be very mindful of that.
“The rules are too tight, I think they should be relaxed a little bit, but at the end of the day I’m not setting the rules and I have to comply with them, it’s difficult for everybody and I appreciate that, it isn’t a situation we wanted to be in.
“We’d rather play the game.”
Full list of games called off
Tuesday, December 28
Arsenal v Wolves
Leeds v Aston Villa
Wednesday, December 29
Swansea City v Luton Town
Birmingham v Peterborough
Burton Albion v Bolton
Charlton v Gillingham
Forest Green v Exeter
Harrogate Town v Mansfield
Leyton Orient v Newport County
Salford v Carlisle
Scunthorpe v Northampton
Walsall v Bradford
Thursday, December 30
West Brom v Preston North End
Cambridge v Doncaster
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.