England’s high-profile football competition, the English Premier League (EPL) has finally been put on hold, on account of the escalating spread of coronavirus across the world, megasportsarena.com reports.
Although EPL top shots had initially been defiant in their stand against putting the season on halt, to avoid further spread of the deadly respiratory ailment, they eventually had to bow to pressure on Friday.
Once Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta tested positive for the disease, which is also known formally as COVID-19, it was only a matter of time before the EPL got the jolt and, less than 24 hours after officials initially announced that they would move ahead with games this weekend, they eventually backtracked and suspended the season indefinitely.
Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters disclosed that the shareholders unanimously decided to halt play with the intention of returning April 4 and rescheduling missed matches. It impacts the FA, EFL and WSL as well.
He added that the league made the decision at an emergency club meeting on Friday, with the announcement coming few hours after reports emerged about Arteta’s diagnosis, while a similar situation saw USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA) suspend its season after the positive test of a prominent player, Rudy Gobert.
In England, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi also tested positive for the virus, resulting in the entire squad and coaching staff self-isolating, while several other players under quarantine, while three Leicester City players self-isolated after showing symptoms, and Manchester City star Benjamin Mendy is also under quarantine after a family member was hospitalized.
An undisclosed number of Arsenal players have done the same after the cancellation of their match following contact with Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis, who has tested positive for the virus. Even more have been isolated after the Arteta news.
Even without Arteta and Udson-Odoi testing positive, it was worth wondering how the league could possibly go forward with matches this weekend given how hard the coronavirus has been hitting the soccer world, with other major soccer leagues — including La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the MLS — have all suspended action for the season.
Masters expatiated: “In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”