Roy Hodgson promises 'very strong' consequences for Covid-19 breaches

Roy Hodgson warns of ‘strong’ consequences for lockdown breaches at Crystal Palace… despite Luka Milivojevic CAPTAINING the Eagles the day it emerged he flouted Covid rules to party with Aleksandar Mitrovic on New Year’s Eve

  • Roy Hodgson made it clear no further breaches of guidelines will be accepted
  • Luka Milivojevic broke Covid-19 rules on New Year’s Eve by mixing households
  • Milivojevic celebrated New Years at a party with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic  
  • The Serbian made a substantial donation to the NHS after ‘letting his fans down’

Roy Hodgson has made it clear to Crystal Palace’s players that no further breaches of Government guidelines will be accepted.

Hodgson’s threat comes shortly after he allowed Luka Milivojevic to captain the Eagles against Sheffield United on the day it emerged he flouted the rule.  

Milivojevic has since issued an apology for breaking coronavirus rules on New Year’s Eve when his household mixed with Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic and his family.

Roy Hodgson made it clear no further breaches of Government guidelines will be accepted

Milivojevic and Mitrovic were filmed celebrating together by Mitrovic’s partner Kristina Janjic at the New Year’s Eve party in London, with the footage having been posted on Instagram. 

Fulham striker Mitrovic and Crystal Palace captain Milivojevic were seen celebrating indoors with at least seven other people, with the words ‘Happy New Year 2021’ accompanying the video.  

Milivojevic started the win over Sheffield United last Saturday, with news of his breach only becoming apparent to management staff on the morning of the game, but further lapses will be punished more strongly.

‘The consequence would be harsher, there is no doubt about that,’ Hodgson said ahead of Friday’s trip to Wolves in the FA Cup third round.

‘We have had one player who has broken the rules and been punished accordingly, but the players have had it made very clear to them in the future there is to be no breaking of any Government guidelines.

‘And anybody who does will face the consequences, and the consequences will be very strong ones and ones the players don’t want to suffer.

‘Let’s hope that message has got home loud and clear and not only at our club, but clubs up and down the country.’

Following the breach, the Serbian made a substantial donation to the NHS after he conceded he ‘let the fans, the club, my manager and team-mates down’. 

His announcement comes after Luka Milivojevic broke Covid-19 rules on New Year’s Eve

Milivojevic (left) celebrated NYE at a party with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (right) 

Milivojevic was one of several top-flight footballers to break tier four rules during the festive period but Hodgson now views the matter as closed.

He added: ‘I think as a club in general we have done pretty well during this Covid-19 period.

‘We have conducted ourselves well, done a lot in the community and have shown a lot of responsibility, but Luka made a grave mistake.

‘He has taken responsibility for it, put out a statement which I think covers things quite well and he has made a substantial contribution to the NHS which we were pleased he suggested he wanted to do.’  

Hodgson continued to suggest that fans are ‘more concerned with winning football’ than their player abiding by the rules.

Such comments lead to a barrage of backlash on social media, with many calling his opinion ‘deeply misguided’.

Hodgson said on Saturday: ‘I must say I’d be rather surprised if there was an outcry from Palace fans knowing that they are more concerned with us winning football matches and not breaching Premier League protocol.

‘On the other hand this is a breach of government guidelines which we didn’t want to happen, which we are very unhappy about, and we apologise for. We will discuss and deal with the matter internally but to suggest that should impact upon him playing today and losing the captaincy is taking it slightly too far.

‘Neither he nor Mitrovic in any way tested positive. In that respect we weren’t concerned about breaching any Premier League protocols and therefore I think it’s quite correct that Luka played the game.’

Despite his actions, Milivojevic started and kept the captain’s armband vs Sheffield United

Milivojevic was not the only Premier League player to flout the rules over the festive period 

Palace could be without their captain at Molineux due to a back spasm while Jeffrey Schlupp is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Hodgson confirmed he will make changes and it could result in Michy Batshuayi being given a chance from the off, with the Chelsea loanee yet to get off the mark in his second spell with the club.

‘I haven’t lost any confidence in Michy Batshuayi at all, he is still the player he was,’ the 73-year-old insisted.

‘I suppose to some extent the fact Christian Benteke has got a chance and taken it so well and we decided to play Wilf (Zaha) in a forward position as well has worked against him.

‘It doesn’t mean I have lost any faith or belief that he will still be a very important player for us and at the end of the season, if we have achieved our goal, I am pretty certain he will be up there with the rest of the players receiving plaudits.’

Palace could, however, be without their captain at Molineux due to his back spasms

While Jeffrey Schlupp is set for a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring injury

Given Hodgson will rotate his squad, Max Meyer could get a rare outing with the German’s only showing this season in the League Cup at Bournemouth in September.

The ex-Schalke playmaker has six months left on his contract and would be allowed to leave if the right offer was forthcoming.

‘Max has been the perfect professional, done all his work and hardly missed a day of training,’ Hodgson said.

‘He wants to play and needs to play. It is pretty obvious at the moment with the competition for places we have got here and the players I have been using, he has been marginalised.

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Max is knocking on the door to move on and if that is the case, I might have to reluctantly agree he has not been given the chances here to show what he could do, so if there is someone else that would give him that it would have to be considered.’

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