EFL to launch twice-weekly coronavirus testing

All 72 clubs across the Football League will be tested for Covid-19 twice a week


The English Football League (EFL) will test players from all 72 clubs for Covid-19 twice a week, starting on Monday. 

The competition has been hit by a number of postponements related to coronavirus in recent months, leading to calls for a regular testing scheme to avoid risks of the league being suspended.

And the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has now agreed to fund such a programme.

The league had previously committed to testing at ‘strategic’ points of the season – which include this week – and clubs could test more regularly at their own discretion.

READ MORE: Man City record three more Covid-19 cases

But the new move brings uniformity and a greater degree of certainty at a time when a number of clubs have called for a “circuit breaker” with a new, highly transmissible strain of coronavirus in circulation.

A joint EFL and PFA statement read: “Medical advice continues to support that following these protocols is the most successful route to mitigating against the spread of infection but given the emergence of a new strain of the Covid virus, it is acknowledged that additional testing where it is not currently happening may help with the early identification and isolation of asymptomatic individuals.

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“The tests have initially been procured from the private sector and will be fully funded by the PFA following discussions that have taken place with the EFL across the past 72-hour period.”

New EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “We have repeatedly maintained that adhering to the stringent protocols implemented during the restart 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.”

The PFA had already been funding coronavirus ‘audits’, whereby officials from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority advised clubs on best practice at stadiums and training grounds.

Lateral flow devices will be used to test all players and staff, and any individual who tests positive will be required to undertake a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) antigen test.

Two sets of results will be announced each week confirming the number of individuals tested and the number of positives.

PA

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