Liverpool vs Leeds and Wolves vs Watford Boxing Day clashes postponed due to COVID outbreaks in Marcelo Bielsa and Claudio Ranieri’s respective squads
Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash at home to Leeds has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Marcelo Bielsa’s squad.
It’s one of two Premier League fixtures on Boxing Day to be called off, with Wolves vs Watford also a casualty due to the Hornets not having a sufficient amount of players to field a team.
Both top-flight fixtures had been due to kick-off at 12.30pm on Sunday.
But the Premier League board met on Thursday morning and agreed to requests from Leeds and Watford to call off their respective games.
A Premier League statement read: “Following postponement requests from Leeds United and Watford FC as a result of COVID-19, the Premier League board met this morning [Thursday] and regrettably agreed to call off the two affected clubs’ Boxing Day fixtures.
“The board today was able to make its decisions in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their supporters. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those fans’ festive plans.
“The League is aware that the decision to postpone these two matches will disappoint supporters and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games.
“The League aims to provide as much clarity as possible, but unfortunately postponements sometimes have to be made at short notice, as safety is the priority. The League will endeavour to keep supporters updated if games become at risk on a matchday.
The board concluded that Leeds United will not be able to fulfil their fixture this weekend due to the number of players with COVID-19, injuries and illness. The club’s training ground has also been closed after consultation with the UK Health Security Agency and the Premier League.
“Watford FC continue to have an insufficient number of players to field a team after their game against Crystal Palace FC last Saturday was postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak. Due to players coming out of isolation, it is fully expected Watford will be available for their fixture on Tuesday 28 December, against West Ham United.”
Meanwhile, six Boxing Day matches in the Championship have been postponed – Preston vs Sheffield United, Barnsley vs Stoke, Cardiff vs Coventry City, Fulham v Birmingham City, Millwall v Swansea City and Peterborough vs Reading will now take place on different dates. Another 15 matches across League One and League Two have also been postponed. The decision to postpone the matches will raise further questions about the volume of fixtures amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with a meeting on player welfare due to happen later on Thursday.
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