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Third Premier League Boxing Day fixture postponed amid COVID outbreak

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By AP
Everton's Boxing Day fixture against Burnley has been postponed
Everton's Boxing Day fixture against Burnley has been postponed   -   Copyright  Jon Super/AP

A third Boxing Day fixture in the English Premier League has been postponed following a COVID outbreak at Everton.

The Merseyside club’s match against Burnley would have to be postponed, the Premier League said on Friday, leaving six fixtures still currently set to go ahead.

On Thursday, coronavirus outbreaks at Leeds and Watford forced postponements of their Sunday matches. Leeds was scheduled to travel to Liverpool and Watford was set to play at Wolverhampton.

“While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is the clubs’ and the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible,” the league said.

The Premier League has now called off 13 matches because of coronavirus issues in two weeks, with players having to isolate after testing positive or if they are unvaccinated and a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

Everton had asked for the postponement citing virus cases and injuries, and the league's board “regrettably approved” the request.

“The Board reviewed the club's request today to postpone the match following further injuries to their squad. They concluded that the club will not be able to fulfill their fixture this weekend as a result of an insufficient number of players available to play due to COVID-19 cases and injuries,” the league said in a statement.

Tottenham coach Antonio Conte described Thursday’s virtual meeting between the Premier League and all 20 top-flight bosses as a waste of time.

“If I have to be honest, it was a meeting that we tried to speak and some coaches tried to speak, to ask about solutions but I think everything was decided," Conte said.

Asked if it was a waste of time, the Italian added: “I think so. Because when you have a wall in front of you, you can speak and ask what you want but every decision was (already) taken.”

Tottenham, which has just returned from an enforced two-week break due to a COVID outbreak at the club, host Crystal Palace on Sunday before visiting Southampton on Tuesday.

Palace coach Patrick Vieira is hopeful his team will be able to play Sunday’s fixture but revealed “a couple of cases” of coronavirus at the club.

He did not give more details. The Eagles have not played for 10 days after last weekend’s match at Watford was postponed due to the opposition dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad.

“We hope we are going to be okay but when you are looking at the number of cases around (the country), we start to be worried," Vieira said.