Premier League must learn from Everton shambles as right decision finally made
The Premier League have now postponed Burnley vs Everton due to a Covid outbreak and injuries in Rafa Benitez’s squad.
In the end, common sense prevailed and the right decision was made by the Premier League.
But why it took them so long to come to that decision once again leaves more questions than answers around how they operate.
Speaking at his Burnley pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon, Rafa Benitez opened up on the club’s current Covid outbreak.
With five positive cases confirmed, and a mounting injury list, the Blues rightly applied to have their Boxing Day clash with postponed.
But despite Leeds, having cited similar issues, having their request to postpone their game against Liverpool granted, Everton’s request was rebuffed by the Premier League. However, following a second request made by the club on Friday, the Premier League finally granted the postponement.
But it was an absolute nonsense how Everton were, at one point, expected to play on Boxing Day, but Leeds were not expected to make the trip to Anfield.
Had Sunday’s game gone ahead as planned, then not only would the integrity of the competition be rightly questioned, but the Premier League would have surely had to justify why one game can be on, but another can’t.
The Premier League handbook includes Covid protocols, and states the competition’s board will “only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances”.
The board makes calls on a case-by-case basis, and by way of guidance the Premier League says permission for a postponement will not be granted if a club has 14 or more players from their squad list available.
But again this comes back to that word consistency.
Everton had nine outfield players available, plus three goalkeepers, and would have had to bring in five young players to make up their matchday squad.
Brentford, Leeds, Leicester and Tottenham have all been in similar positions over the last few weeks and have rightly had their fixtures postponed.
Everton have now rightly had their game postponed too – but only after they fought the Premier League to do so.
That should never have been allowed to happen. The health and welfare of players should always come first and be at the forefront of any decisions being made.
But unfortunately here, that was not the case first time round.
And Benitez’s claim that ‘money is managing the game now’ as the reason as to why the game was initially going ahead as planned, looked to be spot on.
In the end, the right decision was made as to make Everton play with just nine fit senior outfield players would have been farcical.
But the whole episode was nothing short of a shambles, and it is one the Premier League must avoid a repeat of.
Lessons simply have to be learnt from this.