The Premier League has stated match postponements for player unavailability will only be granted in “truly exceptional” circumstances from next season.
From the start of the 2022-23 campaign, clubs will also need to prove they have “taken all reasonable steps” to mitigate any issues to have a game rearranged.
The league has revised its guidance after a number of matches were postponed last term. Coronavirus cases and isolation rules exacerbated other factors such as injury, suspension and international calls.
The league has also made clear clubs will either need to prove they have fewer than 10 outfield players or one goalkeeper unavailable from their main squad, or fewer than 15 outfield players and one keeper from their ‘contract’ ranks (which includes appropriately experienced under-21 and academy players).
Previous guidance drawn up last season due to issues amid the Covid-19 pandemic referred to a watermark of 13 outfield players and one keeper in one general category.
Arguably the most high-profile game to be called off was the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal.
The game was due to take place in January but the Gunners wanted it called off as they had “many players currently unavailable across our squad as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their countries at AFCON”.
That angered Spurs officials after the club had been kicked out of the Europa Conference League for failing to fulfil their fixture due to a covid outbreak.
They did, however, gain revenge by winning the rearranged fixture in May and eventually securing Champions League football ahead of their bitter rivals.
Premier League cracking down
A Premier League statement read: “Club requests to the Premier League board will continue to be considered on their facts and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“Approval will only be granted where the impact of player unavailability on a club’s squad is truly exceptional and where the club concerned has taken all reasonable steps to avoid the necessity to make the application.
“The detail within all applications will continue to be scrutinised by the league’s specialist staff before the board makes its decision.
“The league’s postponement rules and guidance are designed to protect the wellbeing of players and staff, while maintaining the sporting integrity of the competition and the quality of squads playing league matches.”
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