Coronavirus: No Arsenal players or staff to be tested despite Man City postponement

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March 12, 2020
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    Shot of the crowd during Burnley's game against Tottenham with one fan wearing a face mask

    Some supporters have been wearing face masks at Premier League games

    No Arsenal players or staff will be tested for coronavirus after the postponement of Wednesday’s Premier League game against Manchester City.

    The match was cancelled after Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis said he had contracted the virus.

    Marinakis attended Olympiakos’ Europa League tie at Arsenal on 27 February.

    The BBC understands fewer than five Arsenal players are in self-isolation, having been in contact with Marinakis in the tunnel after that match.

    Some Gunners staff members are also self-isolating because they sat close to Marinakis, who also owns Championship club Nottingham Forest, for a prolonged period.

    The players’ 14-day isolation period expires on Thursday, and their Premier League trip to Brighton on Saturday is due to go ahead as planned. The unaffected players trained as normal on Tuesday.

    Forest and Olympiakos have confirmed that all of their players and staff have tested negative for the virus.

    Six people with the virus have died in the UK, where there has been a total of 382 cases.

    According to government advice, people who have come into contact with somebody who might be infected are not considered cases and will only be tested if they also become unwell.

    They will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case.

    Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis

    Evangelos Marinakis was at Emirates Stadium on 27 February watching Olympiakos beat Arsenal

    There were 12 days between Olympiakos’ match against Arsenal and Marinakis’ announcement.

    Arsenal played twice in that time, while Marinakis was present at the City Ground for Forest’s Championship game against Millwall on Friday.

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    Here is a timeline of events so far:

    • Marinakis was at Emirates Stadium for Arsenal’s Europa League last-32 second leg against Olympiakos on 27 February.
    • The Gunners played League One Portsmouth in the FA Cup on 2 March.
    • Marinakis attended Forest’s Championship match against Millwall at the City Ground on 6 March.
    • Arsenal played West Ham in the Premier League on 7 March.
    • Portsmouth played Peterborough in League One on 7 March and Fleetwood on 10 March.
    • Marinakis confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus on 10 March.
    • Wolves play Olympiakos in the Europa League behind closed doors on Thursday after their request to have the tie postponed was rejected by Uefa.
    • Arsenal are due to play Brighton on Saturday while Nottingham Forest travel to Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall host Derby and Portsmouth face Accrington.
    • West Ham are scheduled to play Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday.

    How clubs and sporting bodies have responded

    The Premier League says there are no plans to postpone any other matches and that “all necessary measures are being taken”, while the English Football League is working with Forest to “fully ascertain the set of circumstances that existed when Mr Marinakis visited the club” before deciding what measures to take – if any.

    The Professional Footballers’ Association said it was speaking to the relevant authorities concerned, including Uefa, and had urged players to follow medical advice from their clubs and the UK government.

    A number of the clubs involved have also responded:

    • Nottingham Forest said they were “seeking advice from medical professionals and the relevant governing bodies to ensure the correct measures are taken”.
    • Millwall have said “senior club representatives who came into contact with Mr Marinakis have begun a period of self isolation”.
    • Portsmouth and Peterborough are planning for their weekend matches as normal while continuing to follow “government guidelines”.
    • Brighton said their game against Arsenal this Saturday “remains scheduled to go ahead as planned, in line with government advice, and following consultation with the Premier League and medical advisors”.
    • West Ham say their game against Wolves is also scheduled to go ahead as planned, although “all necessary measures are being taken” on advice from the relevant authorities.
    • Wolves said “there are some things that are more important than football” and that their trip to Olympiakos “poses an unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times”.
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