Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Brighton slated for Saturday has been postponed due to Covid-19.
It is the fifth fixture in the English top tier to be called off in the last week as the surge of cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant continue to cause chaos for the English top tier.
United had closed sections of their Carrington training ground on Monday after an initial outbreak, returning on Wednesday a day after their planned trip to Brentford had been postponed.
Further positives reported on Wednesday night have now forced the Premier League to also put off the encounter with Brighton until a later date.
United said they were left with “no option” but to request the match’s postponement.
“The health of players and staff is our priority,” the club said in a statement. “Given the number of players and support staff having to isolate due to Covid-19, the club had no option other than to request the match be rearranged.
“We will also suspend football training operations at the Carrington Training Complex for a short period to help reduce risk of further transmission. We regret any disappointment and inconvenience caused to fans by the postponement.”
United reportedly had only seven senior players available for the Brighton fixture.
The Premier League has insisted it will aim to continue to hold fixtures “where safely possible”, but with multiple clubs now struggling to combat outbreaks, pressure is growing on the league to intervene as positive cases, mirroring the situation more broadly across the United Kingdom, begin to proliferate.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank called for all weekend fixtures, and next week’s Carabao Cup ties, to be suspended to a later date in a bid to avoid further uneven disruption.
“Covid cases are going through the roof at all Premier League clubs, everyone is dealing with it and having problems,” Frank explained.
“To postpone this round and also the Carabao Cup round would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain.”
The Premier League reintroduced “emergency measures” this week, including the wearing of masks and more regular testing, in a bid to curb the spread.
Forty-two players or staff at clubs tested positive for Covid-19 in the seven days leading up to Monday – the highest weekly tally recorded since the start of the pandemic.