Tottenham suffer COVID-19 outbreak; Spurs vs Rennes called off

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Tottenham have confirmed that there has been a COVID-19 outbreak at the club, as multiple players and staff members are in self-isolation.

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Spurs have confirmed that their UEFA Conference League clash against Rennes will not be played as planned on Thursday, as the north London club shut down their first team training area at their training center.

Speaking ahead of the scheduled game against Rennes, Spurs head coach Antonio Conte confirmed that eight first team players and five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tottenham now face an anxious wait to see how much worse this situation will get, as they have a hectic December coming up with Europa Conference, Premier League and League Cup action. It has been reported that they will ask for their Premier League game at Brighton on Sunday to be postponed.

The current self-isolation period for anyone testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK is 10 days.

What is going on?

Tottenham released the following statement on their game against Rennes, saying they would not play it:

“We can confirm that our UEFA Europa Conference League Group G home fixture against Stade Rennais will not take place tomorrow (Thursday 9 December at 8pm UK) after a number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Club. Discussions are ongoing with UEFA and we shall provide a further update on this fixture in due course. Additionally, following discussions with the Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and DCMS advisers, the Club has been advised to close the First Team area of its Training Centre at this time, in the interests of the health and safety of players and staff. All other areas of the Training Centre remain operational.”

Rennes responded by saying that UEFA hasn’t officially called off the match and that they want to play it.

Antonio Conte gave an emotional speech at his press conference as he revealed the seriousness of the situation.

“Eight players and five members of staff but the problem is that every day we’re having people with Covid, people that yesterday weren’t positive and today are and we’re continuing to have contact with. It’s a serious problem,” Conte said. “Everyone is a bit scared. People have families. Why do we have to take the risk? This is my question. Today, two positives. And tomorrow, who? Me? I don’t know. Better me than a player for sure. But I think it’s not right for everyone. We have contact with our families… The situation is serious. There’s a big infection. And now, for sure, we’re a bit scared. Because we don’t know what is going to happen.”

UEFA’s rules for dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks state that teams who have at least 13 fit senior players and a registered goalkeeper must fulfil the fixture. Antonio Conte’s side are still battling to secure their spot in the knockout rounds of European soccer’s third-tier competition, but they will now play their game against Rennes at another time.

Per Premier League rules, a game must be played if a team has 14 players available and a report from the London Evening Standard states that Spurs are in talks with the league about possibly postponing the game at Brighton on Sunday.

Last season several Premier League games were postponed at short notice due to similar COVID-19 outbreaks, but this one at Tottenham seems to be the most widespread over the last 18 months.

How hard could this hit Spurs?

Very.

Spurs travel to Brighton on Sunday for a Premier League encounter before facing Leicester City on Thursday, Dec. 16 and hosting Liverpool on Dec. 19.

That means any player that tests positive now will likely miss four crucial games, at least. 

With the Omicron variant spreading in the UK and the British government putting more restrictions in place domestically and in terms of international travel, Premier League clubs may start to reimpose some of the stricter restrictions put in place over the last 18 months to try and stop any similar outbreaks at their clubs.

Earlier this week the PL confirmed there had been 12 positive results during its most recent two rounds of testing, which is the highest since the first week of the season.