Forest announce all players and staff test negative for coronavirus
Nottingham Forest have announced all of their players and staff have tested negative for the coronavirus after owner Evangelos Marinakis revealed on Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19.
The Greek businessman was in Nottingham last week and attended the Sky Bet Championship game against Millwall.
Forest are due to play Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Saturday, with the South Yorkshire club understood to be in dialogue with Forest and the English Football League concerning the match.
But, with the EFL saying it will continue to follow government guidelines, Forest have confirmed no-one at the club has tested positive.
“Within hours of receiving the news that owner Evangelos Marinakis had tested positive for the virus, the club took swift action to arrange tests for the entire first-team players, staff and officers that came into contact with the owner last week,” they added in a statement.
“The club will remain in close dialogue with the relevant governing bodies and football authorities to ensure the correct measures are taken.”
Fewer than five Arsenal players are self-isolating after the club’s Premier League clash at Manchester City was postponed as a “precautionary measure” over coronavirus fears.
Marinakis, who owns Olympiacos as well as Forest, met Arsenal staff and players during the February 27 Europa League tie at the Emirates Stadium.
The Premier League issued a statement in the early hours of Wednesday confirming the postponement of the already rearranged fixture which had been scheduled for later in the evening.
It read: “Tonight’s game between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed as a precautionary measure following the announcement yesterday that Evangelos Marinakis has contracted COVID-19.
“Thirteen days ago, Olympiakos played at the Emirates Stadium in the Europa League and Mr Marinakis, the Greek club’s owner, met with several Arsenal squad members and staff.
“Following medical advice, Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC consider it is necessary to postpone their fixture due to be played this evening to give time to fully assess the situation.
“The Premier League has therefore agreed that tonight’s game will be rearranged.
“We understand this will cause inconvenience and cost to fans planning to attend the game but Arsenal, Manchester City and the Premier League have agreed that the short notice of Mr Marinakis’ infection means there is no alternative but to take the time to complete a proper assessment of risk.
“All necessary measures are being taken and the Premier League currently has no plans to postpone any other matches.”
“We have been taking medical advice and tracing any individuals who had what the (Government) guidelines define as close contact with him at the game 13 days ago.
“As a result of this exercise we identified that a number of players met the Olympiacos owner immediately following the game.
“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low. However, we are strictly following the Government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.”
The PA news agency understands less than five players have required self-isolation as a result and that head coach Mikel Arteta has not had to take the precaution.
The self-isolation of a number of his players, however, meant they would not have been available on Wednesday evening, triggering the Premier League’s decision to postpone.
The whole squad is expected to train on Thursday if none of those in isolation begin to show symptoms – and no-one involved with the club will require testing for COVID-19 -as Arsenal’s trip to Brighton on Saturday remains scheduled to go ahead as planned.
West Ham say their clash with Wolves on Sunday is scheduled to go ahead as planned, although the club are monitoring the situation.
Last Saturday the Hammers played Arsenal, who have since had their match at Manchester City postponed due to coronavirus fears.
Wolves, meanwhile, are travelling to Greece to play Olympiacos after their appeal to have the Europa League match postponed was turned down by UEFA. It will be played behind closed doors, again due to coronavirus concerns.
A statement from West Ham read: “West Ham United continues to closely monitor the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
“All necessary measures are being taken and our medical staff, in line with guidance and advice from the relevant authorities, are constantly managing the club’s position, with the safety and welfare of our players, staff and supporters being of paramount importance.
“After discussions with the Premier League and our medical team, Sunday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at London Stadium is scheduled to go ahead as planned.
“The club will keep supporters updated should the situation change.”
Olympiacos, meanwhile, say none of their players or staff have tested positive for the virus.
A club statement read: “Olympiacos FC informs that after the necessary medical examinations of all members of the football department, managers and staff, the tests came out all negative for the COVID-19 virus.”
The Greek side face Wolves in the Europa League behind closed doors in Athens tonight, although the Premier League club are angry that UEFA denied their appeal to postpone the tie.
“Our position is that the trip poses unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times,” a Wolves statement read, adding the club was also concerned for their opponents’ mental and physical wellbeing.
The Wolves-Olympiacos match is one of many European ties that will take place without spectators.
Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 first leg at Austrian side LASK on Thursday and the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 clash away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, March 18 are among them.
So too the second leg of Rangers’ Europa League tie at Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, March 19.
Despite Marinakis’ diagnosis and his position at Forest, the English Football League says there is no immediate plans to postpone any fixtures.
A Forest statement said Marinakis had shown no symptoms when in Nottingham last week, during which time he attended the club’s home game against Millwall on Friday night and reportedly met with the first-team squad.
Confirming matches across its three divisions would continue as normal for the time being, an EFL statement said: “The League is in dialogue to fully ascertain the set of circumstances that existed when Mr Marinakis visited (Forest) last week and in conjunction with the club will make a determination on what measures are to be taken – if any – when full details are known.”
On the international front, the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava on March 26 will be played behind closed doors.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina federation has confirmed ticket sales for this month’s Euro 2020 play-off match with Northern Ireland, which were set to go on sale on Wednesday, have been suspended.
England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27 is set to go ahead as normal, but Italy’s match against Germany in Nuremberg four days later will be played behind closed doors.
France will also play this month’s friendlies at home to Ukraine and Finland without spectators.
At least the next two rounds of LaLiga matches will be played without fans while games across the French leagues will be played behind closed doors until April 15, as will the 25th round of fixtures in Portugal’s top-two leagues.
Italy’s Serie A was one of the first leagues to be suspended following the outbreak.
The Italian Football Federation admitted the season may not be completed, which would leave the options of not having champions this season, making the current standings final or scheduling play-offs to determine the title winners and relegated clubs.
UEFA said it had received no requests from national associations to postpone Euro 2020, which starts in Rome on June 12.
FIFPro, the world players’ union, has backed the postponement of matches and competitions rather than playing behind closed doors.
It said: “We ask that employers and competition organisers respect the wishes of players to take short-term precautionary measures including suspending training or competitions.
“We support the players and their associations who have requested a suspension or postponement of football activities in their countries or regions.”
A German second division footballer has tested positive for the virus as Hannover say their defender Timo Hubers, 23, is in quarantine at home while the rest of the playing staff will be tested.
There remains no immediate threat of England’s friendly matches against Italy and Denmark being postponed, according to the Football Association.
The matches, both to be played at Wembley, are due to go ahead on March 27 and 31.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has issued guidance to its members and to clubs about measures they can take to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
The wide-ranging guidance covers personal hygiene and what players should do in the event that they or those close to them begin to display flu-like symptoms.
Clubs are advised to provide automatic dispensers for disinfectant in changing rooms and toilets, and to keep communal areas clean using disinfectant.
Elsewhere, a member of McLaren’s Formula One team is in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus at the Australian Grand Prix.
It is understood that the team member reported symptoms associated with the disease in the Albert Park paddock on Wednesday morning.
They were tested at the circuit’s medical centre before returning to the team’s hotel in downtown Melbourne. Two personnel from American outfit Haas were tested and are also in self-isolation.
A spokesperson for McLaren said: “We can confirm that one team member has self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution, in line with our policy, after showing symptoms similar to coronavirus.
“We are awaiting test results and currently do not have a definitive timeframe for these. The team is operating as per our normal schedule.”
England cricketers, meanwhile, have been instructed not to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans during their Test tour of Sri Lanka in a bid to insulate the squad from the virus.
“Whilst we acknowledge that this will be disappointing for some supporters, we stress that this a measure to protect the ongoing well-being of the England Test squad and is a decision which has not been taken lightly,” read a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Handshakes between squad members, officials and opposition were already banned, with ‘fist bumps’ the new preferred greeting.
The Indian Open golf tournament, scheduled to take place from March 19-22 in New Delhi, has been postponed.
Organisers are investigating the possibility of rescheduling the event at some point later in the year, but say there are no definitive plans at this stage.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley told the Tour website: “In these difficult global circumstances, we fully understand and appreciate the recent restrictions introduced in respect of travel into India.
“As these new measures now prevent many members of both Tours being able to play in the tournament, everyone involved in the staging of the Hero Indian Open felt it was the correct decision to postpone the tournament.”