Premier League clubs decided against pausing the season despite 10 fixtures being postponed in the previous week due to the most widespread coronavirus outbreaks to date across squads.
While more than 90 per cent of players in the Italian and Spanish leagues have been fully vaccinated, the Premier League disclosed that only 77 per cent of its players had received two doses. In its first update on vaccine take-up in two months, the league also said 16 per cent of players had not received even a single dose.
Coronavirus cases across players and staff hit another high in the last week, more than doubling from 42 to 90. It reflects a spike in infections across Britain — up some 60 per cent in the last week — with more than 90,000 daily cases reported in three of the last four days.
Premier League clubs met virtually on Monday after six of the weekend’s 10 games were called off.
“While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks and challenges,” the league said after the call, “it is the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and well-being of all concerned remains our priority and the league will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.”
Due to the looming fixture congestion to play postponed games, it was announced that plans for replays in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup have been scrapped.
The league has urged players to get vaccinated to avoid squads being depleted and games called off due to coronavirus cases.
“The league continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff,” the Premier League said in a statement.
Wolverhampton is a rare case in England of a team saying its squad is all vaccinated with booster shots received at its Molineux stadium after Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Chelsea.
“Everyone in our building is fully vaccinated, which is the right thing to do, especially with the increase in positive cases in the Premier League and wider society,” Wolves manager Bruno Lage said. “We have a responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe, so when the players and staff were offered the booster jab, it was a simple decision for us, and it was great to do it together after the game.”