English Premier League clubs agree to change coronavirus guidance
FILE PIC: Manchester City after winning English Premiership trophy. /Getty Images

FILE PIC: Manchester City after winning English Premiership trophy. /Getty Images

English Premier League clubs will now have to show four positive cases of COVID-19 in order to apply to have a match postponed, after an agreement to make changes to the criteria.

Following a meeting with clubs on Wednesday, postponement guidance has been amended, after several matches were called off in December and January.

There have been 22 postponements in the Premier League under the COVID-19 criteria since the Omicron variant led to an increase in infections, among players and staff at top-flight clubs.

The last match to be called off was the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham on January 16, which drew criticism from Spurs.

The Premier League accepted Mikel Arteta's sides request to postpone, with the club citing "COVID, injuries and players away with their countries at the African Cup of Nations-AFCON.

Tottenham said they were "surprised" by the league's decision, while Gary Neville said Arsenal's request should have been rejected.

Under the previous rules, where a club could not field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper either from its squad list or its appropriately experienced under-21 players, the match would be postponed. At least one of the unavailable players had to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, at least four of the players absent and leaving a club with less than the minimum 14 eligible players must be positive COVID-19 cases.

It was announced on Monday that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Premier League had fallen for the fourth week in a row.

In the seven days up to and including January 23, there were 16 new cases among players and staff, from 6,221 tests - the lowest number of infections in a week since December 5.

The new guidance will come into effect ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures, on February 5.

(With input from agencies)

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