EXCLUSIVE: Testing may show coronavirus is 'rife' at EFL clubs

League One club with players and staff positive for Covid-19 pressed ahead with a fixture despite KNOWING they were infected as fears grow that coronavirus is now ‘rife’ in the EFL

  • Clubs believe Covid-19 is ‘rife’ in Championship, League One and League Two
  • The PFA are now paying for bi-weekly testing for the remainder of the season 
  • A total of 52 matches in the Football League have been postponed this season

Football League clubs are braced for a fresh surge of postponements following the reintroduction of regular coronavirus testing — funded by the PFA at the cost of around £5million.

Clubs and players believe that Covid-19 is ‘rife’ in the Championship, League One and League Two, a sense already underlined by the 52 postponements so far this season.

Sportsmail has been told of the lengths some clubs have gone to, since the mandatory checks stopped ahead of this campaign, in order to keep the full picture of the virus spread under wraps and allow them to continue playing games.

 Football League clubs are braced for more postponements due to regular coronavirus testing

EFL sides will use lateral flow tests, which will begin for all 72 clubs on Monday, January 11

One club in League One are understood to have pressed ahead with a game — putting their opponents at risk — despite knowing a number of their players and staff were affected. Tests soon after revealed an outbreak at the club, which led to the postponement of a number of their subsequent matches.

Sources have told Sportsmail that games going ahead in similar circumstances have been common this season.

Some players have even been encouraged by managers to remove the track and trace app from their phones so they have no knowledge of potential contact with anyone with the virus, which could impact their ability to play.

Several EFL sides were adamant they would only test players and staff with really severe symptoms, fearing a high return of positive results if they performed wholesale checks due to the number of asymptomatic players who they suspected would be in their squads.

Leyton Orient lost their Carabao Cup place when they tested their players before facing Tottenham. That incident has been seen by some as a deterrent to testing, with some clubs feeling the east Londoners were effectively being punished for doing the right thing and having their players assessed.

Chief executive of the PFA, Gordon Taylor, has agreed to fund testing for Covid in EFL clubs

Another fear has been that a postponement will lead to an investigation which could result in fines or points deduction if it emerges that a club have not adhered to the strict Covid-19 protocols, which have been updated by the EFL recently.

The cost concern of clubs has now been removed by the PFA paying for bi-weekly testing for the remainder of the season.

That is expected to lead to a spike in positive cases, though clubs hope the increased testing and reinforcing of the guidelines will eventually help bring the situation under control.

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