Members of the English Football League (EFL) have called for the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to provide £5 million for weekly COVID-19 testing for the rest of the season, according to the Guardian.
Their request for weekly testing comes after a recent surge in cases of coronavirus across the country, which saw 40 Premier League players test positive in the latest round of testing, the highest recorded so far.
In the recent government announcement, elite sport was allowed to continue, however, since Christmas, there have been postponements in all of the top four divisions.
This week, the EFL has restarted its mandatory, twice-weekly testing for the first time this season, having had to abandon it during the summer due to its cost. They hope to be able to carry out the testing for the remainder of the campaign, if funding can be secured.
Protocols have been put in place to ensure that EFL clubs remain as safe as possible, which the governing bodies as well as the government themselves believe will see the season carried out without the need for any circuit breaks, much like was seen last March where football was suspended until the end of June.
“Currently we’re not planning for a weekly testing regime and quite frankly we couldn’t afford it,” said Ian Mather, Cambridge United CEO, to the Guardian.
“I think there needs to be another stream of funding [for testing]. I think the obvious funding source is the PFA. If you do a back-of-the-envelope calculation it might cost £5m to do testing every week to the end of the season in the EFL. That’s about 10% of the PFA’s reserves. I think they’re the obvious group to fund it. They’ve got the resources to do it, it’s a player welfare issue.”
Phil Wallace, the chairman of League Two side Stevenage, said he was surprised that the PFA had not paid for extra testing.
“If they are all about the welfare of their members then surely they should be involved in anything to do with testing,” he said. “Logic would tell you that the more you test, the quicker you find the cases and the quicker you isolate players.”
The PFA did make a financial contribution to the latest round of testing in the EFL, as well as providing financial support for its member clubs to uphold their coronavirus protocols.
Author: Jake Wilkin