The Premier League Board has voted to postpone the Tottenham at Brighton & Hove Albion match this weekend due to a COVID outbreak at Spurs. The most recent count was 20 first team players and staff had tested positive for the virus. Those who have tested negative are in isolation protocol, and the training facility has been shut down for three days.
Postponing the match was the correct decision. It should go without saying that we here at TSF (and hopefully all Arsenal supporters) wish those affected a speedy and uneventful recovery.
All that said, it’s difficult not to feel Arsenal were hard done by when they were not allowed a postponement (despite requesting one, from what I understand) when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian, and Alex Runarsson tested positive ahead of the season opener against Brentford. Ben White subsequently tested positive as did Granit Xhaka, although the temporal gap to Xhaka’s positive test makes linking his illness to the initial outbreak a bit more tenuous.
And I’ll go a step further than Arsenal were hard done by. The Premier League made the wrong decision back in August. They made the correct one today, and I’m pleased that the Board did not make Spurs play out of some misguided sense of fairness and / or recognition they got the Arsenal decision wrong.
To my knowledge, there hasn’t been any reporting on how many of the COVID-positive Tottenham players and staff are vaccinated. I hope that they all are because the vaccine has been proven to significantly reduce the duration and severity of the illness.
If it later comes out that a majority of the positives were among unvaccinated individuals, I might change my tune on whether a postponement was the correct decision. The health and safety of the players will always be the top priority, but in the case where some or most of the current positives are unvaccinated, I think Spurs playing with reserve players and U23 callups should have been on the table as should a forfeit have been. At some point, you reap what you sow.
But I’m not sure we will ever know enough to have an informed opinion on the decision, so we have to work with what we’ve got. It’s a deeply unfortunate and difficult situation, and I think the Premier League Board got it right.
Spurs’ situation is a sobering reminder that COVID-19 is still very much a part of our lives, even if we are all understandably suffering from COVID-fatigue. As we see with Tottenham and with Joshua Kimmich, who was unvaccinated and now has lingering lung issues that will keep him out through January, even the healthiest, fittest people are not safe from the virus. Get vaccinated if you are able.
A safe and speedy recovery to Tottenham’s players and staff.