Tottenham face fixture chaos after Europa Conference League game with Rennes descends into farce after Covid outbreak

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Tottenham Hotspur
    Tottenham Hotspur
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Antonio Conte
    Antonio Conte
    Italian association football player and manager
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte - Tottenham face fixture chaos after Europa Conference League game with Rennes is postponed after Covid outbreak - PA
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte - Tottenham face fixture chaos after Europa Conference League game with Rennes is postponed after Covid outbreak - PA

Tottenham Hotspur are facing a fixture pile-up after they called off their Europa Conference League tie against Rennes because of the coronavirus outbreak that Antonio Conte admitted had left him and his players “scared”.

Last night, Spurs had eight first-team players ruled out with coronavirus, as well as nine staff members and some Under-23 players, at least two of whom had been training with the first-team squad.

Following crisis talks with Uefa, Spurs said that the game against Rennes had been postponed and that the first-team area of the club’s training ground had been closed, sparking a row with the French club over the timing of the announcement.

It is anticipated that Tottenham will now apply to the Premier League for Sunday’s trip to Brighton also to be postponed, having had their recent game against Burnley postponed because of heavy snow.

Although Spurs and Conte will be pleased that common sense prevailed over the Rennes game, the club now face a fixture pile-up, both domestically and in Europe.

A Spurs statement, which was released less than 24 hours before they had been due to entertain Rennes, said: “We can confirm that our Uefa Europa Conference League Group G home fixture against Stade Rennais will not take place tomorrow after a number of positive Covid-19 cases at the club. Discussions are ongoing with Uefa and we shall provide a further update on this fixture in due course.

“Additionally, following discussions with the Health Security Agency [formerly Public Health England] and DCMS advisers, the club has been advised to close the first-team area of its training centre.”

However, Rennes, who had already travelled to London, accused Spurs of jumping the gun with the postponement.

“[This] unilateral decision has not been confirmed by Uefa in any way,” said a Rennes statement. “Faced with this “London fog”, we reserve the right to approach Uefa.”

It is anticipated that Tottenham will now apply to the Premier League for Sunday’s trip to Brighton to also be postponed, having had their game against Burnley postponed already because of heavy snow.

Leicester City have also been hit hard, with seven first-team players ruled out of their Europa League tie in Naples. Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, Ayoze Perez, Jannik Vestergaard, Daniel Amartey, Filip Benkovic and Vontae Daley-Campbell have all had to remain in England.

For Spurs, midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had been due to join Conte at the pre-Rennes press conference, but the Italian appeared on his own and said: “The situation made me very upset, very upset because it is serious and there is a big infection and now for sure we are a bit scared.

“The problem is every day we are having people with Covid. People that yesterday weren’t positive today are positive, and we continue to have contact with people we think are negative, but the day after they become positive.

“I think this is a serious problem. Today, one player and one member of staff.

“The worst is we don’t know and we continue to have contact with people who, the day before, were negative. And for sure this is not a good situation.

“We had a training session. We prepared for the game against Rennes, but it is very difficult to face at the end of the training session again, one player positive, another member of staff positive and tomorrow who? Me? Another player? Another member of staff?”

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said his players would try to take the disruption to their plans in their stride. They were already without the injured trio of Wesley Fofana, Ricardo Pereira and James Justin.

“It’s not going to destabilise us,” Rodgers said, “it’s just not nice when you don’t have the availability of players added to those who weren’t available anyway.

“We’ve taken every single measure in terms of arriving here in the safest possible way – firstly for our own group and also for our host country, we have to respect the laws and the health issues here also.

“It’s been over the last few days but you are starting to see a few more cases.”

Leicester face Napoli as Group C leaders and victory will guarantee them a place in the last 16, but defeat and a win for either Spartak Moscow or Legia Warsaw would dump them out of the competition.

They will, however, be boosted by the return of Youri Tielemans, who has travelled to Naples after missing the past five matches with a calf injury.

Asked if he had a message for the governing bodies, Conte said: “I think that I haven’t got to send a message to anyone because the situation is very clear.”

Rodgers said that he would closely monitor the fitness of his players ahead of Sunday’s home match with Newcastle.

West Ham United are also in action on Thursday night as they entertain Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, as they look to finish unbeaten in their group, having already secured first place.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting