EFL to finally introduce regular COVID-19 testing in wake of postponements

03 January 2021 01:01

EFL players and staff in the Championship, League One and League Two are to be tested twice a week in a bid to get rising cases of COVID-19 under control and prevent further postponements.

The UK as a whole has experienced a spike in positive tests as the dreaded winter second wave continues to rip through the country, worsened by the existence of the new coronavirus strain that was first discovered in the south east.

Coronavirus cases are rising across the UK | Harry Trump/Getty Images

Two Championship games were postponed on Saturday alone because of COVID-19, with a further three in League One and two more in League Two. Bad weather, the usual culprit for postponements at this time of year, claimed another handful.

League One club Fleetwood have seen their next two games postponed because of an outbreak, while Doncaster are yet to play since Christmas and their Tuesday night clash against Oxford is a fourth game that has been called off in the last two weeks.

The Telegraph report that, unlike Premier League clubs, testing has not been commonplace since the November international break. They had hoped that medical advice surrounding training and matchday protocols would be enough to protect players and staff, but the recent spike in postponements means better action has to be taken.

Championship clubs were subjected to more rigorous testing over summer in order to complete the heavily delayed 2019/20 season, but League One and League Two were abandoned, meaning players and staff at those clubs have never been regularly tested.

There hasn't been mass testing in the EFL | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Now, there will be a change in approach, with testing expected to curb and prevent the spread and risk of infection from previously undetected asymptomatic cases.

It is said that an already planned one-off round of testing this week, intended to offer a clean bill of health for the New Year, will now be just be the start of a regular programme instead. The FA will also fund additional testing for those clubs involved in the FA Cup.

The cost of mass testing has previously been an issue, particularly for clubs lower down the EFL ladder, but the Telegraph notes that central funds are likely to cover the outlays.

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Source: 90min