The build-up to Gameweek 30 of Fantasy Premier League was overshadowed by a string of Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates on Thursday.
Brendan Rodgers announced in his latest press conference that three first-team Leicester City players were “being kept away” from the main bulk of the squad having “shown symptoms and signs” of the virus.
The Foxes boss did not reveal which individuals were affected by this decision, but the local press have reported that, as they have shown only “minor symptoms of a cold-like illness”, they have “not yet been tested for coronavirus as they have not hit the threshold in terms of symptoms”.
Later on, a Leicester statement confirmed that “all three players were advised by NHS 111 that their symptoms were consistent with seasonal illness”.
“We’re taking all the necessary precautions that everyone is doing. We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs, so we’re following procedure really with them. They’ve been kept away at this moment from the rest of the squad. We’ll see how that develops. We have to wait and see [if it will keep them out of the weekend’s game]. It’s about having the agility to react. This is about health. This is more than football. This is players and their families and children. So with any risks that are there, for their health and everyone else’s, we have to mitigate against that. A few players who have shown symptoms, we’ve self-isolated them. We’ll see how that develops over the next couple of days. We’ve got three [players in self-isolation].” – Brendan Rodgers
Either way, the fact that Leicester’s players shared a pitch with those of both Aston Villa and Norwich inside the last 14 days will probably make the latest updates from Dean Smith and Daniel Farke more important than usual.
Meanwhile, the Athletic and Football.London reported on Thursday afternoon that preparations for Chelsea’s upcoming meeting with Aston Villa were disrupted in connection with COVID-19.
Athletic Reporter Simon Johnson claimed that the Blues’ training session had been cancelled after “someone close to the squad complained of coronavirus symptoms” on Wednesday evening.
Manchester City’s schedule has also been affected, following some breaking news from Spain on Thursday morning.
It was revealed that, following one of the club’s professional basketball players testing positive for COVID-19, the Real Madrid squad was entering into 14 days of self-isolation.
This period includes Manchester City’s scheduled Champions League second-round second-leg tie with the Spanish side, which has now been officially postponed.
“Real Madrid reports that a player from our first basketball team has tested positive after testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Since then, the recommendation has been made to quarantine both the basketball first team and the football first team, given that the two squads share facilities in Madrid. Likewise, it has been decided to close the facilities of our sports city and it is also recommended that all Real Madrid personnel who provide their services in Real Madrid City remain in quarantine.” – Real Madrid statement
“Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League fixture at home to Real Madrid has been postponed. The decision to postpone Tuesday’s game was made in conjunction with UEFA and follows confirmation that players from Real Madrid will self-isolate, after it emerged that a player from the club’s basketball team tested positive for COVID-19.” – Manchester City statement
Elsewhere in the Champions League, the entire Juventus squad has also been placed in self-isolation following an official club announcement that defender Daniele Rugani had tested positive for COVID-19.
That development has seen their upcoming Champions League trip to Lyon called into question.
“You’ve read the news, so I want to reassure everyone who’s worried about me, I’m fine. I urge everyone to respect the rules, because this virus makes no distinction! Let’s do it for ourselves, for our loved ones and for those around us.” – Daniele Rugani
Meanwhile, Wolves and Manchester United’s Thursday evening Europa League matches are yet to be called off.
The Red Devils’ trip to Austria to face LASK has been closed off to fans, as has Wolves meeting with Olympiacos in Athens.
It was the Greek club who were at the heart of the story earlier this week as their owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Nottingham Forest, revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19.
As he was in contact with several Arsenal players for a Europa League tie at the Emirates Stadium 12 days prior to this announcement, the Gunners’ midweek trip to Manchester City was postponed, cancelling Double Gameweek 29.
Arsenal reported that a select and unspecified group of players would spend the rest of this week self-isolating to see out the 14-day period after meeting Marinakis and that they would return to training on Friday to prepare for the trip to Brighton.
Naturally, this has led to some concern in West Ham circles, as the Hammers travelled to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in Gameweek 29.
A UEFA response to developments in both the Champions League and Europa League is likely to come next Tuesday.
The European footballing body has called an emergency meeting, sensibly to be held as a video conference, between all 55 organisations under its remit to discuss how the sport will move forward on the continent.
The fate of this season’s Champions League and Europa League are expected to be decided at this coming together, while there are already suggestions in the media that it will also see some call for Euro 2020 to be postponed until 2021 to allow major domestic divisions to complete their 2019/20 campaigns before the start of 2020/21.
The wider world has already seen a deluge of events brought to a halt by the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Following Real Madrid’s announcement, La Liga was officially suspended for two weeks, following in the footsteps of Serie A in Italy which took the same decision earlier this week.
Thursday also saw major leagues in Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway suspended for a period of at least two weeks, while the MLS in America moved to cease all matches for the next 30 days.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Thursday afternoon that the government are considering banning major public events, such as sporting fixtures, which would include the Premier League. However, such decision is not expected to be immediate.
🗣 | Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms the British government are "considering banning major public events such as sporting fixtures". However, no decision will be taken yet as they are "discussing these issues with colleagues in all parts of the UK".#FPL #FantasyPL #FFScout pic.twitter.com/1xTb4we7J6— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) March 12, 2020
What to do if you think you might have coronavirus*
If you think you might have coronavirus or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has it:
- stay at home and avoid close contact with other people
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next
The 111 coronavirus service will tell you if you need to continue to stay at home (self-isolate) or if you need medical help.
* Information taken from the official NHS website.