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Christian Purslow: Premier League call-off rules not fit for purpose

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has called on the Premier League to review its rules on postponements, claiming they are no longer fit for purpose.

Christian Purslow has sympathy for the plight of lower league clubs (Luciana Guerra/PA)
Christian Purslow has sympathy for the plight of lower league clubs (Luciana Guerra/PA)

Purslow believes the league need to urgently look at regulations brought in to help clubs call off matches during a rise in Covid cases. The feeling they are now being manipulated by some clubs increased last weekend when Arsenal succeeded in having their derby with Tottenham postponed despite having only one confirmed positive test, with other players absent due to injury, suspension and international duty.

Purslow has become the first club executive to speak publicly about the postponement protocols.

He said in an interview with the The Times: “I believe that the protocols that were brought in to enable clubs to postpone games in the midst of the Covid crisis are no longer fit for purpose.

“They were well-intentioned at the time but to have a situation where clubs are applying for games to be postponed with just one or two positive Covid cases was never the intention of the rules. I have asked the Premier League to review the situation and I hope that happens as a matter of urgency.”

The rules state matches must go ahead if teams have a minimum of 14 players available, including a goalkeeper. But there has been frustration over a lack of transparency, with many clubs refusing to make public the number of players who have tested positive for Covid. That includes Villa, who made a successful application for last month’s home fixture against Burnley to be called off due to an ‘increased amount’ of positive tests.

It is claimed the Premier League’s board had already begun looking at the rules and could make changes.

A league spokesman said: “The Premier League is consulting with our clubs regarding Covid-19 postponement rules and guidance in light of the changing national picture and the falling number of cases within our squads. The league’s current guidance was amended in December following the emergence of the new Omicron variant. The league continues to monitor the ongoing effects of the virus and will update our guidance accordingly.”

There have been 21 matches postponed in the Premier League this season under the new rules plus Burnley v Tottenham due to snow.

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