Premier League bosses are divided over talks to implement a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ into the already hectic fixture schedule.
The top-flight was suspended for three months during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the season only completed behind-closed-doors in the summer.
That has caused a fixture pile-up in the 2020/21 campaign, as leagues across the world attempt to navigate their way through the outbreak.
The English leagues have come through the opening months of the season relatively unscathed, but with a second wave sweeping across the country, cases within the game are on the rise.
Newcastle United’s fixture with Aston Villa was the first to be cancelled, with the Magpies unable to fulfill the fixture due to a number of positive cases.
And now, Manchester City’s trip to Everton has been postponed following an outbreak within their first-team bubble.
Their clash with Chelsea could also be at risk, with more results set to be revealed.
The Premier League announced yesterday a record number of positive tests, with 18 detected in the week between Monday, December 21 and Sunday, December 27.
Although Mirror Sport understands the Premier League have no intention of pausing the season, clubs have begun talks about a potential fortnight break to allow cases to reduce.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has claimed he is in support of such a break, with the priority on the safety of players and coaches alike.
He said: “Everyone’s safety is more important than anything else,” he said. “When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original virus, we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break.
“I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid. I’m very concerned for myself and football in general. If that’s what needs to be done we need to do it. We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try.”
Similarly, Brighton manager Graham Potter has claimed: “We have to make sure we do the right thing, because football is important, but not as important as people’s lives and health.”
Sean Dyche has also hinted he would back action, if numbers continue to rise: “Players have still got to live their lives, they’ve still got to operate in a way that is within the rules and the guidelines; the ones we have within the camp are very strict but the players have lives,” the Burnley boss said.
“They have families and we are told that it (the virus) is everywhere so we can only stay within the guidelines, I just hope it stays outside of football as best it can. If the numbers keep rising we’ll have to deal with that accordingly.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he would also be in favour of pausing the season if the decision was made with player safety in mind.
And while Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo told reporters “everyone is worried” about the increasing numbers, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he cannot see the benefit of the break.
“It’s not something I’ve thought about a lot. I think our players have been really good in following protocols and rules,” Solskjaer said.
“That’s part of the job here, that we as clubs follow the protocols given. I can’t see the benefit in having a circuit break, whatever it’s going to be called.”
Solskjaer’s former United teammate Gary Neville has backed his verdict, suggesting it shouldn’t stop as the “virus isn’t going anywhere in 2-4 weeks”.
Sheffield United have had an outbreak within their squad, but Blades boss Chris Wilder has said they will not look “to get anything canned”.