Stevenage Football Club player tests positive for coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 22:56 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 22:56 25 September 2020
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Stevenage are the latest League Two club to have a player test positive for coronavirus – putting their game at Bradford City in jeopardy.
They follow the postponement of Grimsby Town’s clash with Cheltenham Town, also originally set for tomorrow (Saturday), as well as the Mariners’ subsequent matches against Bradford on October 3 and their EFL Trophy match with Hull City three days later.
Leyton Orient was the first club to see games postponed after a positive test prior to their League Cup game with Tottenham Hotspur.
A statement from Boro said the undisclosed player had displayed mild symptoms yesterday (Thursday) with the result of the immediate test coming back positive this morning.
That has led to the full squad and backroom staff being tested with their results expected tomorrow morning.
The required action will then be taken in consultation with the EFL.
But it has led to Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace calling for more support from the authorities with regards to the funding and regularity of the testing.
He said: “What we have been told to do – only test players and management with symptoms – might have been acceptable when numbers were low but things have changed and when it happens in your club, you feel an obligation to test everyone, if only to reassure them.
“What do we do if another individual reports with symptoms on Monday? Test everyone all over again? This isn’t the right way and nor is only testing symptomatic players.
“The EFL simply can’t leave it to clubs to decide who gets tested and who doesn’t for all sorts of fairly obvious reasons.”
He believes that a way to fund weekly testing must be found as in his opinion that will allow for better management of the spread of the virus in the squad.
“The key issue is who pays for it,” he went on. “Lower league clubs will be on their knees come the end of this year with no income from crowds.
“Survival is by no means certain for a large number of these clubs, yet we all continue to pay player wages whilst we play behind closed doors, in the spirit of our agreement with our players and the PFA.
“Today I paid out £3,500 for tests to ensure the welfare of our players for a few days, at a time when our club is scrambling for every pound.
“When it is reported that the PFA have £55 million in retained earnings and if their main role is the welfare of their members, one might wonder why the PFA are not paying for these tests.
“If testing costs can be driven down so that a squad and management can be tested for less than £2,000, then testing the whole of League One and League Two weekly during the season will still see them with well over £50 million left.
“There has to be a solution which protects players, yet allows clubs to continue playing and, therefore, paying their wages. We shouldn’t have to stop playing again if we manage the virus weekly and are able to smooth out positive tests.”
He has also called for fans to be let back into stadia, with the decision taken out of the hands of the government.
He said: “We have to find a way to get crowds back into our open stadiums, letting our individual safety groups rule on whether a club is approved to provide a safe environment for watching football, not the government.
“Otherwise what is the point of being controlled by an independent safety advisory group? We need crowds back to survive and every EFL club is more than capable of complying with whatever requirements are requested by our respective group.”
The club said official news on the immediate future of Stevenage games, including the matches at home to Salford City and MK Dons as well as the match with the Bantams, will be released as soon as possible.
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