COVID-19: Manchester City vs Arsenal match postponed


Manchester City’s Premier League home match against Arsenal on Wednesday has been postponed because players from the London club have had contact with the owner of Greek side Olympiakos, who has contracted the coronavirus.

A number of Arsenal players had met Evangelos Marinakis following their Europa League round-of-32 meeting in London on February 27.

Marinakis, who also owns Championship side Nottingham Forest, said on Tuesday he had contracted the coronavirus.

“Manchester City’s Premier League fixture at home to Arsenal has been postponed,” City said in a statement.

“The decision to postpone tonight’s game has been taken as a precautionary measure on medical advice, after it emerged that personnel from Arsenal FC have come into contact with the Olympiakos owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who has been named as a positive case of COVID-19.”

Arsenal said the risk to their players was “extremely low” but they would follow medical guidelines.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” Arsenal said in a statement.

“However, we are strictly following government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.

“The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff, who were sitting close to Mr Marinakis during the match will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete.”

Olympiakos football staff test negative for coronavirus
Olympiakos announced on Wednesday morning that all their football staff have tested negative for coronavirus.

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The Greek club said in a statement: “Olympiakos FC informs that after the required medical exams to which all the members of the football staff, as well as board members and staff, were submitted, all the tests came out negative for the COVID-19 virus.”

The Greek side face Wolves in the Europa League behind closed doors in Athens on Thursday night.

The Premier League said it had no plans to postpone any other games.

Manchester City described the move as a precautionary measure
The Premier League said it had no alternative but to postpone the game between City and Arsenal and complete a proper risk assessment, but added that no other matches were in immediate danger of being postponed.

“All necessary measures are being taken and the Premier League currently has no plans to postpone any other matches,” it said in a statement.

Arsenal’s next opponents, Brighton, have confirmed that they expect Saturday’s match between the teams to go ahead.

“The risk is considered extremely low and Saturday’s match remains scheduled to go ahead with the self-isolation period for those players ending tomorrow (Thursday), as we continue to follow government and medical advice with regard to the coronavirus,” Brighton said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Wolves said on Tuesday that their request to European soccer’s governing body UEFA to postpone their Europa League last-16 first leg against Olympiakos had been rejected.

Wolves had said that the trip to Greece posed unnecessary risks to their “players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times”.

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A sixth person has died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, with confirmed cases rising to 382, while the NHS in England is planning to “ramp up” testing facilities so 10,000 coronavirus tests can be performed each day.