KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Arsenal tonight has become the first English football victim of the coronavirus crisis. The game was postponed as a “precautionary measure”.
This followed an announcement by Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest, that he had contracted the virus. Marinakis had met Arsenal staff and players during the Europa League tie in north London on February 27.
A Premier League statement announced the postponement and added: “We understand this will cause inconvenience and cost to fans planning to attend the game but Arsenal, Manchester City and the Premier League have agreed that the short notice of Mr Marinakis’s infection means there is no alternative but to take the time to complete a proper assessment of risk.
“All necessary measures are being taken and the Premier League currently has no plans to postpone any other matches.”
Arsenal said none of personnel who had met Marinakis had reported symptoms but several players were self-isolating for 14 days and thus had been unavailable to play last night.
The English Football League, which governs the lower three divisions, said there was no immediate plan to postpone any fixtures.
Football officials have discussed the coronavirus crisis with the government and decided it is not yet necessary to enact either total suspension (like Italy and Switzerland) or closed-door scheduling (like France and Spain).
Wolves have complained to UEFA at having to travel to Greece for the Europa League tie against Olympiacos behind closed doors. The club said it had urged UEFA “to consider alternative options moving forwards, as this will not be the last fixture to be affected by coronavirus.”
A statement added: “Our position is that the trip poses unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times.”