Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Brighton on Saturday is called OFF

REVEALED: Man United had just SEVEN players available to face Brighton, forcing the Premier League to postpone the game, but bosses say the show MUST go on despite calls to stop the season

  • Man United have seen a second Premier League game called off due to Covid-19
  • Saturday lunchtime’s clash at home to Brighton has now been postponed 
  • The Red Devils have shut their Carrington training base until Tuesday at least
  • The match is the fifth Premier League game to be called off due to Omicron
  • The Premier League has ruled out a full suspension despite pressure to stop



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Manchester United’s next Premier League match with Brighton on Saturday lunchtime has been postponed as the Red Devils continue to struggle with the coronavirus outbreak in their squad.

Ralf Rangnick’s side were forced to postpone their last match – a trip to west London side Brentford – on Tuesday night after being forced to close their Carrington training base after last weekend’s win over Norwich. 

United have since returned more positive coronavirus results and while some players were able to train this week, the club are unable to field a team this weekend with only seven players available for the Brighton match.  

Only nine players were available to ahead of Tuesday night’s match against Brentford, with United boss Rangnick resorting to using youth team players during the training sessions that took place this week. 

The Red Devils also announced that their training complex will revert back to being closed until Tuesday at least, in order to reduce the risk of transmission. David de Gea, Marcus Rashford, Fred and Alex Telles were four of the players who trained at Carrington’s training base before it closed again.

The match is the fifth Premier League match to be called off due to outbreaks of the Omicron variant that has infected tens of thousands around the UK – but the top-flight insist there will not be a league-wide suspension of matches.  

Manchester United's Premier League clash with Brighton has been called off due to Covid

Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Brighton has been called off due to Covid

United were able to train this week but only nine players were available to play on Saturday

United were able to train this week but only nine players were available to play on Saturday

A Premier League statement on Thursday read: ‘While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is the League’s intention to continue its current fixture schedule where safely possible. The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority.’ 

Brentford manager Thomas Frank began an appeal to get this weekend’s full round of Premier League matches, along with next week’s Carabao Cup quarter-final ties, called off so clubs can get their coronavirus cases under control. 

English football is preparing for at least a dozen more requests to postpone matches amidst the Omicron surge. 

Thursday night’s top-flight clash between Leicester City and Tottenham has been called off following requests from both camps this week and while Chelsea also reported a small number of cases on Thursday, their match with Everton tonight will still go ahead.

According to ESPN, an increasing number of clubs are said to be keen on the idea of stopping play until January 8 next year – which would rule our four rounds of Premier League fixture, including this weekend. 

United's Carrington training base has closed once again and will remain shut until Tuesday

United’s Carrington training base has closed once again and will remain shut until Tuesday

As well as United’s postponed clash with Brentford on Tuesday, Burnley’s match against Watford on Wednesday was called off two hours before kick-off after the Hornets announced an outbreak in their team. 

Last weekend’s clash between Brighton and Tottenham was called off after Spurs reported that 13 players from Antonio Conte’s squad had tested positive for the virus. 

In the EFL, as many as seven matches this weekend were called off on Thursday, including Saturday matches between Sheffield Wednesday and Accrington and Crawley’s encounter with Oldham Athletic. 

The Premier League is holding daily briefings, while the League Managers’ Association is in regular dialogue with the top flight and EFL as managers seek clarity on a rapidly worsening situation.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank wants this weekend's Premier League games to be postponed

Brentford boss Thomas Frank wants this weekend’s Premier League games to be postponed

The Bees have recorded 13 positive cases among players and club staff as of Thursday

The Bees have recorded 13 positive cases among players and club staff as of Thursday

THIS WEEK’S GAMES POSTPONED SO FAR

Premier League

Leicester vs Tottenham

Manchester United vs Brighton

Championship

Cardiff vs Derby 

League One

Gillingham vs Crewe

Sheffield Wednesday vs Accrington

Lincoln City vs Doncaster 

League Two

Crawley vs Oldham

Barrow vs Northampton Town

Swindon Town vs Walsall 

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While the Premier League and EFL wish for the campaign to continue, there is a growing belief among club medics that an enforced break is looking increasingly likely. 

The Omicron variant has led to a large increase of cases in the UK, with 78,610 people testing positive on Wednesday – the highest daily number since the pandemic began. 

Brentford manager Frank claims the variant is ‘running like wildfire’ around the world and that shutting down football for at least a week would help clubs get their players back under control.  

The Danish manager told a press conference on Thursday morning: ‘It would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.

‘Also in football, you need close contact. Physios need to do their job with players in treatment. We are in dressing room on matchdays, we are travelling by coaches so it’s a little bit more difficult to work from home.’ 

Frank believes a decision to halt this weekend’s round of top-flight fixtures could be enough to sure the busy festive programme will be able to go ahead largely as planned.

‘We fully respect that we want to play and it is important football keeps going, and this way we can make sure Boxing Day keeps going, I’m 100 per cent sure of that,’ added Frank.

‘This Omicron variant is running like wildfire around the world and I think we need to do all we can to protect and avoid it. I think we can do a lot by closing down training grounds for three, four or five days, and then we can go again.’

HOW OMICRON HAS THE PREMIER LEAGUE ON EDGE

Brentford

The Bees have 13 cases among players and staff – the club are now calling for a circuit-breaker shutdown to help clubs recover.

Leicester

Will be without several players for Tottenham’s visit on Thursday due to Covid. The game is now set to be postponed after initial calls it called off were rejected by the Premier League.

Manchester United

Case numbers are currently unknown but a large outbreak saw their game with Brentford postponed. Calls to have Saturday’s game with Brighton to be postponed were accepted on Thursday due to the outbreak at the club.

Brighton

Had request to have game with Wolves postponed rejected by the Premier League following an outbreak at the club. Graham Potter confirmed there were ‘three to four’ positive cases before the game. Game with Manchester United has now been postponed.

Norwich

Dean Smith is facing an anxious wait to discover the full extent of the outbreak at the club. Currently in discussions with the Premier League over Saturday’s clash with West Ham.

Watford

Saw the game with Burnley postponed just hours before kick-off. Case numbers currently unknown.

Tottenham

Spurs were the first Premier League club to be hit by the Omicron variant last week and saw games against Brighton and Rennes postponed after cases reached double digits among players and staff. Those who tested positive for the virus are expected to return in the next couple of days after completing their 10-day self-isolation period. Spurs’ clash with Leicester on Thursday is now set to be postponed after initial demands to have the game called off were rejected.

Chelsea

After Brentford, the Blues became the latest club to be hit by a Covid outbreak, after it was confirmed ahead of their game with Everton that three more first-team players had tested positive for Covid, with Mateo Kovacic the first Chelsea player to get the virus this week.

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