Covid protocols tightened as EFL reveal a quarter of players won't be getting vaccinated

More testing to be introduced at training grounds

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:44 pm
Luton's game at Reading this weekend
Luton's game at Reading this weekend

The EFL have announced that tighter protocols are to be enforced at first-team training grounds in the Football League due to increasing concerns over the Covid-19 Omicron variant, while also revealing a quarter of players aren't intending to get the vaccine.

With Luton Town's trip to Reading cancelled on Saturday due to an outbreak of Covid in the Royals squad, the second tier has seen the games between Mllwall and Preston, QPR and Swansea City, Coventry and Stoke, plus Cardiff and Derby also called off.

A number of Premier League matches are not going ahead, plus more games further down the footballing echelon, as a statement on the EFL website today said: "In light of the increased transmission rate of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, the EFL has moved to implement a regime of enhanced training ground protocols, increased testing and has provided updated guidance on the minimum number of available players that are required to fulfil a fixture.

"All 72 Clubs will now be required to implement enhanced RED protocols for first team training settings.

"Social distancing measures will be required outside of physical sessions, along with restrictions to the use of indoor facilities, manual therapy and group travel, amongst others.

"As part of the enhanced guidance, Clubs will be expected to implement a daily screening programme of testing, subject to supply chain availability of Lateral Flow tests.

"Any person with a positive test of symptoms will then be required to take a PCR test and isolate in line with Government guidance.

"In respect of the screening programme, the EFL will not be providing a weekly aggregate report on number of tests undertaken and the number of positive results.

"The rationale behind this decision is due to the volume of testing taking place that, depending on circumstances, may vary from club-to-club, alongside the rolling nature of the programme.

"The EFL will confirm the circumstances where positive tests lead to a postponement of a fixture.

"In the wake of recent EFL fixture postponements due to COVID-19 cases at Clubs, the EFL has also provided guidance on non-fulfilment of fixtures, confirming that Clubs will be expected to play where it has 14 players including a goalkeeper available from the Club’s registered squad list, Under 21 players not on the squad list but have played one League match, or any other contracted player not on the squad list but otherwise would have been eligible to play.

"This guidance has been designed to help Clubs ensure the safety of players and staff, while ensuring that the fixture schedule can be maintained wherever possible.

"Where any Club states it cannot fulfil a fixture, a report shall be filed with the EFL, and the circumstances reviewed."

After Town manager Nathan Jones admitted the Hatters squad members wouldn't be forced to get the vaccine, the EFL revealed that a quarter of players within the EFL were not intending to do so, as the statement added: "On vaccination, the EFL is encouraging all eligible players and staff to get fully vaccinated and a booster jab to help protect colleagues and minimise the risk of fixtures being postponed.

"The EFL will also be supporting the Government’s ‘Get Boosted Now’ campaign over the coming weeks.

"The latest vaccine data collated for November has shown that 75% of players across the EFL are either fully vaccinated, have had a single jab or intend to be vaccinated.

"Double vaccinated players total 59%, 16% are set to get the jab, while 25% of players currently do not intend to get a vaccine."