Europe English Premier League

COVID Forces Spurs to Postpone Crucial Ties Against Rennes and Brighton

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases within the Tottenham Hotspur camp has forced the club to postpone two of their upcoming matches, a crucial UEFA Europa Conference League tie against France’s Rennes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as well as an important Premier League clash against Brighton & Hove Albion away at the Amex Stadium. The postponements added more to Spurs’ fixture backlog, with the Lilywhites having been forced to postpone a league outing away at Burnley due to heavy snow on November 28th.

Tottenham’s Conference League match against Rennes – a match that Spurs must win in order to secure qualification out of the group stages – was left hanging in the balance after reports emerged out from the North London club that eight of their players and five staff members were tested positive for COVID-19.

The outbreak was so severe, Tottenham were forced to close their first-team training center on Wednesday.

After a review from UEFA, it was determined that Spurs were unable to field a squad of 13 players (goalkeeper included) from their A list, forcing the Lilywhites’ match with Rennes on Thursday to be postponed.

Despite acknowledging the severity of the situation, the fact that Tottenham had confirmed to Rennes that the match will still be going as planned on Wednesday afternoon before suddenly announcing its postponement on Wednesday night the moment the Rennes team arrived in London had enraged the French side, who stated that they “reserve the right” to appeal the match’s postponement to UEFA.

“This lack of fair play is all the more glaring as Tottenham had confirmed by email that the match would be held at the start of the afternoon before warning Rennes of their intention not to play just after landing in London,” said a statement issued by Rennes on their website.

With the deadline for all group stage matches in UEFA’s club competitions this season being December 31st, the federation is trying their best to secure a suitable date for the Rennes-Tottenham match to be carried out. Unfortunately, with the snow-caused postponement of Spurs’ Premier League match against Burnley in late November, the Lilywhites have quite the backlog of matches for December, which became even more of a headache following the subsequent postponement of Tottenham’s trip to Brighton this weekend.

The Premier League Board, following a meeting on Thursday after a request from Tottenham to have their match against Brighton this Sunday to be rescheduled, issued a statement confirming the postponement of Sunday’s game at the Amex Stadium.

“The Premier League Board has taken the decision to postpone the game following guidance from medical advisers, with the health of players and staff the priority. The postponed fixture will be rescheduled in due course and the Premier League wishes a quick recovery to those with Covid-19.”

Tottenham issued the following club statement in regards to the postponements, “We should like to apologize to everyone at Stade Rennais and Brighton & Hove Albion and to both their supporters and ours for any inconvenience caused. We should also like to thank both clubs for their understanding during these challenging times.”

With the postponed fixtures against Burnley, Rennes, and Brighton in mind, Tottenham must face both Leicester City and Liverpool in the league in the space of three days, with the Leicester game being on December 16th and Liverpool on December 19th. After that, there’s the EFL Cup quarterfinal tie against West Ham United on December 22nd.

Fitting the three fixtures before the end of December would be a huge challenge for everyone involved.

Speaking on Wednesday, Spurs manager Antonio Conte, who’s already vaccinated and was unable to confirm whether the COVID outbreak happening at his club was due to the concerning Omicron variant, expressed his upsetness at the situation.

“Now, for sure, we are a bit scared because tomorrow we don’t know what happens,” said Conte, as quoted from BBC Sport, “Every day, we are having more positives. This is not a good situation. To speak about football today is impossible. The last situation made me very upset. The situation is serious. There is a big infection.”