The English Football League (EFL) and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) have confirmed that they will be carrying out twice-weekly testing for all 72 clubs from next Monday, funded by the PFA.
Player care concerns had been raised after the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 across the country, leading to the re-introduction of league wide testing to complement the enhanced match day and non-match day protocols, which has also been funded by the PFA.
Medical advice has suggested that following the protocols is the most successful route to reducing the spread of coronavirus, however, upon the emergence of the new strain, additional testing is hoped will reduce this further by identifying cases earlier and putting those individuals into isolation.
Newly appointed EFL chairman Trevor Birch said: "We have repeatedly maintained that adhering to the stringent protocols implemented during the re-start last summer and then across all clubs since the beginning of the season was going to be our best chance of beating the virus and to keep playing matches.
“Only last week we took the decision to enhance these to further minimise risk, though with the new strain of the virus taking hold across parts of the country, it is now clear from our discussions with our medical advisors and public health officials that additional testing, operated in conjunction with strict protocols, may prove beneficial in the immediate short-term.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the PFA for their support in helping us to finalise a position on testing across all three divisions on a twice-weekly basis. We will continue to review the situation and make any adjustments or changes as circumstances dictate with the health and well-being of our players and club staff the overwhelming priority.”
PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor added: “In the light of the current increase in COVID-19 cases and the resulting further tightening of government regulations, the PFA and the EFL have agreed enhanced measures to help protect players, staff and their families.
“Football has provided temporary relief for many fans during the lockdown. PFA members, alongside millions of people, have worked hard and played a positive role throughout the pandemic.
“We believe that this comprehensive and expansive approach to testing will help support clubs and be an important factor in maintaining fixtures and ensuring that football can continue during this challenging period.”
Author: Jake Wilkin