Scott Parker: Fulham boss gives detailed six-minute explanation of club’s Covid-19 outbreak

Simon Collings
·5-min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Scott Parker revealed the extent of the Covid-19 outbreak at Fulham last month during an extraordinary 6-minute explanation in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s match with Chelsea.

Fulham had to close their training ground last month and have matches against Tottenham and Burnley postponed following an outbreak at the club.

The Spurs game was rearranged to be played last Wednesday and the build-up to it was fuelled by verbal sparring between Jose Mourinho and Parker over its rescheduling.

Parker was upset over the late notice of the game being put on, and he has now gone into great detail about how bad the outbreak was at Fulham last month.

Asked if he could understand the argument that clubs need to just take whatever comes their way over the next few months, given the fact football can still continue, Parker said: “I definitely think that is a good argument and I totally understand that.

“If I can explain, exactly my argument, because I have seen some reports, I have seen some comments regarding my gripe the other day.

“My gripe was not the fact that I only had two days to prepare the team. That’s not my gripe.

“My gripe was that, at this moment in time, 16 days ago, give or take, that Tottenham fixture was meant to be played.

“We had on the morning of the game six positive Covid tests - six. At that moment, I was ready to play the game. I want to play the game, but understand in one round of testing we have six players what got tested [positive].

“At that moment we need to be very open and understand we are leaving our training facility with a bubble, with a group of players, that may all be infected - because the day before we trained.

“The way the testing works, you test and you have 24 hours before you get results. So at that point we didn’t know - as these players are training with us - who else in our squad is infected.

Fulham claimed a draw at Tottenham despite the tough schedule.POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Fulham claimed a draw at Tottenham despite the tough schedule.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“So at that point we inform the Premier League. We need to inform the Premier League because [of] the safety of coach drivers, the safety of hotel staff, the safety of Tottenham and their players.

“We travel to a hotel, but the game gets called off. We get told to come back to the training facility to test again. Rightly so. Let’s test everyone in our bubble and see, hopefully not, that this deadly virus that we are all petrified of, has not spread.

“The following day, we have another three positive tests. Three of the positive tests are players that were going to play in the Tottenham game. So our decision was right.

“So at this moment there is nine positive tests in our group and again is there now concern amongst us that there is an outbreak at our football club?

“Well I think it was clear to say we’ve got an outbreak now. We had got nine players, a couple of staff were included in that, so around it all was 10.

“At that moment the facility gets shut for the weekend because we need to clear things up. Them nine players have now gone into isolation.

“So fast-forward 10 days. Ten days brings us to Saturday at the FA Cup. All those players are now coming out of being ill with Covid. Being in their homes, having symptoms, for 10 days.

Mourinho and Parker exchanged words in press conferences before the game on Wednesday.Getty Images
Mourinho and Parker exchanged words in press conferences before the game on Wednesday.Getty Images

“On Saturday afternoon, I get told - bearing in mind the Premier League knows, everyone knows- when I am preparing to play QPR, I get told we now have a game on Wednesday.

“Now the well-being and safety of the players that are now stepping out of their houses for the first time was my issue. That’s my issue, why now?

“Can we delay this game? There is an issue here that one, you’ve not given us plenty of time. Maybe if you’d told us on the Thursday, I could have adapted the team against QPR - because all of a sudden now we have got a two-game week in Tottenham and Chelsea. It is not a one-game week.

“Before this, before I know the game is put on, it is a one-game week. You train differently. What players are you going to use.

“A player that has been in isolation now for 10 days, their first day back on Saturday is going to be a light job and Sunday another light jog.

“Monday we build it up, Wednesday we build up and you build them to a place for Friday. All of a sudden now, to get told on Monday, we have worked Saturday and Sunday.

“I have played a team against QPR, thinking that my next fixture was Friday, so there’s the balance of that. It’s put on your lap on Monday morning at 9.30.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

“While I totally understand what you are saying and we are doing that constantly. Give me next month’s fixtures and they come out and we play Wednesday, Friday, Friday, Monday.

“Not ideal, but you wouldn’t hear me moan. I’d just be like, this is it, this is the times we are in and we need to understand this, and it is difficult and everything like that.

“But in this situation, I don’t see it like that. I see this situation and we have valid, valid reasons.

“This was very unfair, very unfair and plus, when you look at it, on the grand scheme of things, you are asking players… what I asked of my players on Wednesday… some of those players, what we asked of them was nothing short of remarkable, to be honest with you.

“That was my gripe and I am sorry that was long winded, and I have gone on a bit too long, but I do feel that I just needed to properly… we’ve been very protective of this situation as a football club and me personally in terms of the players and the confidentiality of all that.

“We have been very protective and not wanting to give out too many numbers and stuff like that, because it is confidential. But I feel like I needed to say that.

“I hope you understand and maybe some people won’t, but from my side that’s exactly how I see it.”

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