Former Portsmouth boss' fixture pile-up warning amid new coronavirus testing regime

Michael Appleton believes the new EFL testing regime will circumnavigate the need for a circuit-breaker.

Saturday, 9th January 2021, 11:05 am
Updated Saturday, 9th January 2021, 11:06 am

But the former Pompey boss believes there will be more games called off a result of the twice-weekly testing which begins next week.

It was announced this week clubs will undertake the regime from Monday, with the Professional Footballers’ Association funding the cost.

Appleton, who himself has just recovered after testing positive for coronavirus, feels the EFL need to lay down specific guidelines on the circumstances under which games can or can’t take place.

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At present, individual clubs make the call whether a game will or won’t go ahead after an outbreak with the league then investigating.

The Lincoln manager feels that situation needs addressing.

He told Sky Sports News: ‘There will be a lot more games called off because we’ll have more accurate readings of whether people are genuinely ill or not because of the testing.

Michael Appleton (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

‘If there’s absolute clarity on what the EFL and everyone agrees that if you have x amount of cases or you have x amount of people you can field you must play the game.

‘Again then you wouldn’t find yourself in a situation where you have to have a break.’

New EFL chief executive Trevor Birch, who was the administrator at Pompey in 2012 and 2013 as he brokered a deal for the clubs survival through community ownership, believes the new testing gives the league’s season the best chance of continuing.

He said: ‘We have repeatedly maintained that adhering to the stringent protocols implemented during the restart last summer and then across all clubs since the beginning of the season was going to be our best chance of beating the virus and to keep playing matches.

‘Only last week we took the decision to enhance these to further minimise risk, though with the new strain of the virus taking hold across parts of the country, it is now clear from our discussions with our medical advisors and public health officials that additional testing, operated in conjunction with strict protocols, may prove beneficial in the immediate short-term.

‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the PFA for their support in helping us to finalise a position on testing across all three divisions on a twice-weekly basis.

‘We will continue to review the situation and make any adjustments or changes as circumstances dictate with the health and well-being of our players and club staff the overwhelming priority.’

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