Premier League players in tier 4 areas will be tested for Covid-19 twice a week as soon as it is practically possible to do so.
Players in the top flight have been tested on a weekly basis since the start of the 2020-21 season. But testing at clubs in tier 4 areas will revert to the level used during ‘Project Restart’ in the summer. The increased testing will be widened out to clubs in lower-tier areas from next month, it is understood.
The Premier League clubs in tier four are Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham. The Premier League had said when it cut back testing to once a week at the start of this season that it would keep testing levels under review.
The league’s latest figures were released on Monday and showed there were seven positive cases out of 1,569 players and club staff tested.
Ipswich’s physio Matt Byard has said football “may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’” after a coronavirus outbreak at the club. Positive tests – including for the manager, Paul Lambert – led to the postponement on Monday of their League One match at home to Northampton on Boxing Day and at AFC Wimbledon on 29 December. The club said five players and two members of staff had tested positive.
Byard said: “Personally, with so many clubs affected by this presently and this new strain development, football may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before a return to playing securely.”
In League One Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Sunderland have also recently postponed fixtures because of positive tests.
“I know the EFL are looking at bringing in extra measures, with maybe more testing for example,” Byard said.
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