City duo Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker had already tested positive and missed Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle, before the club reported further cases of the virus and closed their first-team training ground. After consultation, the match was called off by the Premier League after they took on board strong medical advice.
In a statement on the club’s website, Everton expressed their disappointment that the match had been called off. “Everton Football Club regret the postponement of tonight’s match against Manchester City - not only for the 2,000 fans who would have been attending, but for supporters on Merseyside and across the world.
“Our players were prepared for the game, as were both the team staff and everyone at Goodison. Matchday is the most important date in our calendar. And this was a big one.
“Whilst Everton will always have public safety uppermost, we will be requesting full disclosure of all the information that Manchester City provided to the Premier League, so the club can be clear on why this decision was taken.”
Premier League rules state that permission to postpone a game will not be granted if the applicant has 14 or more players on the squad list available, but they have also stated that decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The blues issued their own statement on the City website, saying the Premier League had taken medical advice and the match was called off as a precaution.
“Manchester City lodged a request with the Premier League today to rearrange the game following an increase in positive Covid-19 test results received by the club this morning, on top of the cases reported on Christmas Day,” the statement said.
“This rise has created uncertainty and the Premier League Board received medical advice that the match should be postponed. The Board agreed to rearrange the game as a precaution, and further testing will now take place Tuesday.
“The decision has been taken with the health of players and staff the priority. The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them.
“The League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Everton in due course.”
City will test their players again today and the results will determine whether the blues trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday will still go ahead, however it has been confirmed that City’s League Cup semi-final with United at Old Trafford will not be forfeited if the situation has not improved. There was concern that would happen as Leyton Orient had to forfeit their game against Tottenham earlier in the season, however the rules in the competition changed from the fourth round, meaning games are no longer forfeited, as long as they are rearranged at the earliest reasonable opportunity.
It is thought the outbreak is related to City’s recent League Cup tie at Arsenal. The blues travelled to London for Tuesday’s 4-1 win; however, the capital had recently been placed into Tier 4 following reports of the new strain of Covid-19 having the ability to infect people faster.
No date has been set for the rearranged fixture, although the blues still have a home match against Aston Villa to rearrange, as well as the potential Chelsea match, which could mean a fixture pile-up in the New Year.