A suspension of the Premier League season “of some sort” due to the coronavirus pandemic is considered likely, a source has told the PA news agency.
It follows the news that Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi have contracted the virus.
Three Leicester players are also being tested, while Everton announced on Thursday that the squad was in self-isolation after a player reported symptoms consistent with the virus.
Five members of staff at Bournemouth, including goalkeeper Artur Boruc, are self-isolating because they are displaying symptoms consistent with Covid-19.
The Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding fixtures after Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19— Premier League (@premierleague) March 12, 2020
Statement: https://t.co/ofi5DhIQZM pic.twitter.com/RmnxRHXooz
The Premier League is meeting at 10.30 this morning, with clubs set to be represented via videolink.
European football’s governing body UEFA announced on Friday that all next week’s Champions League and Europa League ties had been postponed, while England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka was cut short.
The Gunners’ trip to Brighton on Saturday was immediately postponed following the news about Arteta and a blanket suspension of activity for at least one round of matches is now likely.
The Premier League would be joining its counterparts in Italy and Spain in suspending its season.
A host of sports tournaments and competitions have been put on hold due to the pandemic, including the NBA basketball league in the United States while in golf, the US PGA called off the Players Championship at Sawgrass after the first round, as well as its scheduled tournaments for the next three weeks.
The English Football League (EFL) is also meeting this morning to discuss its fixtures, with Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony revealing that one of his players is self-isolating. He has called for EFL action to cease with immediate effect.
The Government announced a move into the ‘delay’ phase of combating the virus on Thursday but have not placed any restrictions on mass gatherings. However, it now seems infection among competitors themselves will lead to sporting activity being halted.
In Scotland, gatherings will be limited to 500 people from Monday.
In a video message on his official Twitter feed, Hudson-Odoi said he had the virus for “the last couple of days” and recovered, and was “self-isolating myself from everybody for the week”.
The top two divisions of French football have been suspended indefinitely, the Ligue de Football Professionnel announced on Friday morning.
Leeds Rhinos on Friday announced they were not travelling to Spain for Saturday’s match against Catalans Dragons on medical grounds, with a member of their squad self-isolating after showing symptoms of possible coronavirus.
Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled following a member of the McLaren team testing positive for Covid-19 and discussions are taking place over whether the season start should be delayed until June. There are reports that the Bahrain Grand Prix, already due to be staged behind closed doors, would also be cancelled.
European football’s governing body UEFA will discuss the possibility of delaying Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021 when it holds an emergency meeting of its member associations via video conference on Tuesday.
It will also need to make some tough decisions regarding the Champions League and Europa League, which has been directly affected by players involved contracting the virus but has also suffered from the travel restrictions imposed across Europe as a consequence of the outbreak.