EFL investigate as Portsmouth promotion rivals Sunderland call off games after coronavirus outbreak
The EFL have launched an investigation after Sunderland postponed their next three league games after a coronavirus outbreak.
Pompey’s promotion rivals have called off their upcoming fixtures after their season was plunged into crisis by five positive cases of Covid-19 at the Black Cats’ academy.
Now, according to the Sunderland Echo, the league will look into the circumstances behind the postponement as has been standard practice in similar scenarios.
With none of the other investigations underway being concluded there is yet to be a precedent set over the possibility of any sanctions for clubs.
In their statement, the EFL said: ‘Sunderland’s next three Sky Bet League One fixtures against Shrewsbury Town (Saturday 19 December), Blackpool (Tuesday 22 December) and Hull City (Saturday 26 December) have been suspended.
‘Sunderland today (Wednesday) informed the EFL that they will be unable to fulfil the fixtures following guidance from the local authorities, including Public Health England, on Wednesday that has resulted in facilities at the Club being closed.
‘After one senior player tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, selected players and staff undertook additional testing and a further four cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed and therefore all those affected are required to self-isolate for 10 days as per guidance in order to mitigate against the risk of further infection.
‘Sunderland, the EFL and the relevant authorities will be conducting a thorough review of the Club’s COVID-19 secure procedures with the view to reopening the stadium and training ground as soon as possible.
‘The safety and well-being of players is a priority and the protocols that have been developed are designed to protect individuals and, if followed, will help prevent the spread of infection.
‘All EFL Clubs are aware of the processes and steps needed to take in the event of positive cases of COVID-19 and the impact this could have on their wider playing squads. This includes informing the League if they determine they are not able to fulfil a fixture safely.
‘The circumstances surrounding the postponements will now be the subject of an investigation in accordance with EFL Regulations.
‘Revised dates for the rearranged fixtures will be confirmed in due course.’
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson was unhappy his side played their midweek 1-1 draw with AFC Wimbledon while the extent of the outbreak was still unknown.
Johnson stated the club were threatened with sanctions if the game was not played, with the EFL later releasing a statement saying their regulations were followed with Sunderland given an opportunity to call off the game pending an investigation.
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