Premier League clubs record 36 new Covid cases in latest tests

Premier League clubs record 36 new Covid cases in latest round of testing – down four from last week – as Government tells football to get tougher on Covid rules

  • Premier League is now testing players and staff at all 20 clubs twice a week
  • Additional tests and tougher protocols are designed to stem the spread of Covid
  • Last week, the top tier recorded 40 Covid cases among 2,295 tests 

Premier League clubs have recorded 36 positive tests for coronavirus in the latest round of testing among players and staff.

Some 2,593 tests were carried out between January 4 and 10 and the infection rate was 1.39 per cent.

Top tier clubs have been tested twice a week for Covid since the turn of the year and the latest figures compare to a season-high of 40 positive tests last week from 2,295 tests. An infection rate of 1.7 per cent.

The latest estimate for the infection rate among the population as a whole is 2.06 per cent, although the rate among younger people, aged 18-35, tends to be around 3 per cent.

Aston Villa fielded a team of U23 and U18 players in the FA Cup because of a Covid outbreak

The current set of results come as football battles to stem the spread of the new strain of coronavirus, which appears to have increased the level of infections in the Premier League and English Football League.

Five Premier League matches have now been postponed due to Covid outbreaks at clubs, the most recent being Aston Villa’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at Villa Park on Wednesday 13 January.

In the FA Cup this weekend, Aston Villa fielded a team of U23 and U18 players to play Liverpool because coronavirus had affected a number of players for a game they lost 4-1 at Villa Park. 

The top-flight clubs known to have been affected by cases of coronavirus include, Manchester City, Fulham, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Burnley, as well as Villa, and on Monday, Chelsea announced an outbreak of the virus at its academy, although it did not affect first-team players.

Premier League match between Villa and Tottenham has now been postponed due to Covid 

The latest results come as the UK announced a further 573 coronavirus deaths yesterday in the highest Sunday rise since April.

Infections also continue to be high, with 54,940 announced yesterday – the 13th day in a row they have been above the 50,000 mark.

The Premier League has taken action to reduce the spread of the virus within the game. As well as introducing twice-weekly tests, tougher protocols were unveiled on Friday with immediate effect.

The new measures include:

  • Substitutes to wear face masks on the bench
  • Players and staff to avoid hugging, handshakes and swapping shirts
  • Spot checks on dressing rooms to ensure social distancing rules are being followed
  • Limited numbers of people allowed at training grounds and limited access to canteens
  • Clubs to provide the Premier League with travel plans

The focus on football’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has never been greater.

Three Spurs stars and a West Ham player (identified above) broke rules to party despite Covid-19 restrictions being in place over the Christmas period

Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic (left) was seen breaking Covid rules at a New Year’s Eve party with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (right)


Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon, Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso were fined and reminded of their responsibilities after they were pictured in a large group photo alongside West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini and their families on Christmas Day.

Manchester City say they are investigating after Benjamin Mendy held a New Year’s Eve party which included guests from outside his household. He was a substitute in City’s next game.

Crystal Palace and Fulham launches investigations into Aleksandar Mitrovic and Luka Milivojevic after they were pictured partying together – but Palace fielded the midfielder as captain in their next game.

High profile breaches of social distancing rules over Christmas and New Year by players at five clubs in top-flight clubs caused controversy.

And players failing to observe social distancing on the pitch during goal celebrations has also led to concern.

At the weekend, widespread and exuberant celebrations after goals and in dressing rooms at Chorley and Crawley, caused more disquiet and led to further calls to suspend football.

The scenes prompted government to tell the football authorities to take a tougher line on breaches of Covid rules and the FA was set to write to clubs to remind them of their responsibilities.

Any further breaches are expected to lead to tougher sanctions.

In the EFL, the first full round of testing since November revealed 112 positive Covid tests out of a total of 3,507 players and staff among 66 clubs, an infection rate of 3.19 per cent.

Just three clubs accounted for 35 cases.

The EFL has also issued tougher protocols to clubs and joined forces with the Professional Footballers’ Association to provide twice-weekly testing using lateral flow devices, which are less accurate but much faster and cheaper than the PCR tests used in the Premier League.

Spurs’ players ran to youngster Alfie Devine when he scored at Marine in the FA Cup

Ministers want to keep football going because they recognise the benefit elite sport brings to grassroots activity and are aware that the game brings plaeasure to many people in Britain

It is not believed there is an immediate threat to football, but incidents over Christmas followed by scenes in the FA Cup make uncomfortable viewing for ministers arguing that the continuation of the game does more good than harm.

Government is acutely aware of the financial impact of suspending the game, not just at the elite level but the knock-on effect that would have for the grassroots, which benefits financially from the top tiers.

Furthermore, in a bleak time, football is a valuable source of interest and entertainment for millions of people.

Sportsmail understands that for government, the balance between the benefits of the elite game continuing still outweigh the negative impact of players being seen to breach social distancing rules. Ministers retain confidence in the sport’s Covid protocols, but wants them enforced more effectively.

Crawley Town also celebrated on and off the pitch after a remarkable win over Leeds United

But for some the football has already passed a point of no return. Former FA chairman and respected figure within the game, David Bernstein, has reiterated his concern over football’s continuation.

‘The pictures of players celebrating and hugging on the pitch in these unique circumstances undercut the message of social distancing, which is extremely dangerous,’ he told the Telegraph. ‘That adds to the reasons why I believe that football should be suspended.’

Meanwhile, Watford striker Troy Deeney has claimed that footballers can’t stop breaking new Covid rules because it is in their ‘nature’ to hug their team-mates during goal celebrations, and the Watford striker called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to shut down the sport.

Troy Deeney (left) has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) to shut down football

‘Unless the government or governing bodies step in and say, ‘you cannot do this, you cannot do that’, then it goes back to what’s morally right,’ Deeney told talkSPORT .

‘You can’t stop people from going away [on holiday], you can’t stop people from playing football and naturally going to hug your team-mate who assisted you – it’s something we’ve done for years.

‘Ultimately, it’s up to the powers that be to shut football down, and it doesn’t matter if it carries on into June and July like last year, or we talk about it week after week as people make mistakes.’


Round 1: Aug 31-Sep 6 – 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.

Round 2: Sep 7-13 – 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.

Round 3: Sep 14-20- 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.

Round 4: Sep 21-27 – 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.

Round 5: Sep 28-Oct 4 – 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.

Round 6: Oct 5-11 – 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.

Round 7: Oct 12-18 – 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.

Round 8: Oct 19-25 – 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.

Round 9: Oct 26-Nov 1 – 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.

Round 10: Nov 2-8 – 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.

Round 11: Nov 9-15 – 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.

Round 12: Nov 16-22 – 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.

Round 13: Nov 23-29 – 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.

Round 14: Nov 30-Dec 6 – 1,483 tested, with 14 testing positive.

Round 15: Dec 7-13 – 1,549 tested, with six testing positive.

Round 16: Dec 14-20 – 1,569 tested, with seven testing positive 

Round 17: Dec 21-27 – 1,479 tested, with 18 testing positive 

Round 18: Dec 28-Jan 3 – 2,295 tested, with 40 testing positive 

Round 19: Jan 4-Jan 10 – 2,593 tested, with 36 testing positive

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