Coronavirus forcing English football into reckoning as Steve Bruce says it is ‘morally wrong’ to keep playing


After a string of postponed games and dozens of players going into self-isolation and with a new, more infectious strain of the virus on the rise, English football faces a COVID-19 reckoning.

The UK recorded 68,000 positive tests and a new record of 1,325 COVID-19 deaths on Friday.

Leaders have issued warnings hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.

But English professional sporting competitions have been permitted to keep playing while the rest of the country is unable to head into work or go to school.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce says it is “morally” wrong for games to continue and West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Allardyce says a two-week “circuit breaker” should be considered.

But Spurs boss Jose Mourinho says postponing any more games could cause an “impossible” backlog for clubs.

The football leagues plan to keep the show going on, with the Premier League issuing a warning to clubs they will discipline players who breach its strict coronavirus rules.

Here’s why the situation may come to a head.

How has COVID-19 affected English football?

At least 60 games have been postponed across the country so far, with the problem far worse in the lower tiers and in the women’s game.

The Premier League only makes up for three of those matches, but the issues still run deep.

Manchester City and Aston Villa shut their training facilities in recent weeks after positive tests and the latter was forced to field a team of youth players in the FA Cup on Friday after 10 senior players contracted the virus.

The English Football League, which runs the three divisions below the Premier League, reported 112 positive cases out of 3,507 players and staff members who were tested in the latest round of checks. That is an infection rate of more than 3 per cent.

EFL clubs playing in the FA Cup — Derby, Shrewsbury, Brentford and Middlesbrough — were all missing players due to COVID-19.

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