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- Italian association football player and manager
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte believes all clubs are now experiencing the problems Spurs faced with Covid-19 but respects the Premier League’s decision not to suspend the season.
The league announced on Monday its intention to continue with the scheduled matches over the Christmas period, even though there were 90 confirmed coronavirus cases among players and staff recorded last week.
A shareholders’ meeting which involved representatives from all 20 clubs came to a collective decision to carry on with the campaign as planned, despite six of the 10 games last weekend being off due to Covid outbreaks.
It was confirmed at a #PL club meeting today that while recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks & challenges, it is the League’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 20, 2021
Conte, who saw Spurs return to action on Sunday after a two-week enforced break, said: “Honestly, it’s not simple.
“I think there are people that are in a position to take the best decisions for football and the whole country. For sure there is the problem and all the clubs are facing this problem.
“We had this big problem the last two weeks because we had nine players with Covid, several members of staff with Covid and under-23 players with Covid.
“For sure it was a big mess for us and we were in trouble. I think all the clubs now are facing this problem and if the Government and Premier League decides to continue to play, I think they have the right reason to take this decision.”
The EFL also revealed on Monday it planned to continue with its scheduled games in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two.
Liverpool are preparing to face Leicester in the last eight of the Carabao Cup, another of the EFL’s competitions, and Jurgen Klopp’s number two questioned why decisions are being made after talks with chief executives rather than health experts.
Reds assistant boss Pep Lijnders said: “For me the experts are not the managers, they are the scientists and the doctors and we should follow their guidelines.
“The Premier League should ask them, not the CEOs, not the managers, because health always comes position number one above everything.”
Chelsea were one of the few clubs to play at the weekend after their request to postpone Sunday’s game at Wolves was rejected, despite them missing seven players due to positive Covid tests.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel accused the Premier League following the stalemate of risking the health and safety of his players but conceded on Tuesday there was no obvious way out of the current situation.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 21, 2021
“I don’t even know if (a break) would help and I don’t want to give anybody the impression that I have a solution. I don’t have a solution, for the league or in general,” Tuchel said.
“We wanted to give insight into our thoughts, that’s why we did this when we arrived at Wolverhampton. But we also made clear we would fight for the best result and not make any excuses.
“And this will maybe be the situation for many, many weeks, because it will not stop when those players come out (of isolation). Maybe it will happen to other players, other clubs. So to continue will maybe not change the situation.”
West Ham manager David Moyes would have welcomed a break but understands the importance of the games played in the festive period.
He said: “I think our Christmas programme is so important to people in this country and the culture. Because of that we’re used to playing hectic Christmas schedules.
“From a personal point of view, we’ve played a lot of games and it’d be nice to have a little bit of a break. Some clubs have had that – we’ve not. We play in this country, that’s what we do.”