Liverpool and West Ham among clubs offering to pay for EFL opponents’ coronavirus tests ahead of Carabao Cup fixtures amid outbreak fear… as Middlesbrough return THREE positive cases
- Some Premier League clubs may pay for their opponent’s Covid-19 tests
- There is a fear of an outbreak, as EFL testing is pricey and not mandatory
- Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has tested positive for coronavirus
Liverpool and West Ham are among several Premier League clubs offering to pay for their Football League (EFL) opponents to be tested for Covid-19 ahead of next week’s Carabao Cup fixtures amid fears of a fresh Championship outbreak.
Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has tested positive for coronavirus and one of his players and a backroom member are also now self-isolating after contracting the virus.
Another player tested positive during pre-season. Boro hosted Barnsley on Tuesday and Warnock was present inside the Riverside Stadium.
Liverpool will be among clubs to offer to pay for their EFL Cup opponent’s Covid-19 tests
The 71-year-old isolated in a private box after feeling unwell. Barnsley travel to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday and will only be tested for Covid-19 if the Blues cover the cost — and that is likely to happen after discussions between the clubs on Thursday.
Sportsmail revealed this week that the EFL have now removed the mandatory protocol of weekly testing, and that has triggered urgent conversations between Premier League clubs and their lower-league counterparts.
Bournemouth are at Covid-hit Boro in the Championship, five days before they face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.
The EFL have removed mandatory testing, with many clubs struggling to afford the costs
Liverpool have offered to pay for Lincoln City’s players and staff to be tested ahead of their game on Thursday, while Tottenham say they are making the ‘correct and appropriate’ arrangements with opponents Leyton Orient.
And West Ham have confirmed that they took the initiative and safeguarded their players by paying for Charlton to be screened prior to Tuesday’s 3-0 victory at the London Stadium. They are set to do the same with third-round opponents Hull.
Each test costs around £150 with the bill being picked up by Premier League clubs coming to anywhere between £5,000 and £15,000.
Other top-flight clubs, such as Aston Villa and Fulham, are instead planning to follow the safety measures already in place and are unlikely to offer tests for Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.
Neil Warnock will miss Middlesbrough’s game with Bournemouth after a positive Covid-19 test
Meanwhile, the spate of cases at Middlesbrough has seen the club call an emergency meeting for Friday. They are due to host 1,000 fans at the Riverside and that pilot event is still set to go ahead. The club said Warnock was in ‘good spirits’ on Thursday and had entered a ‘period of isolation’.
Testing in the EFL is now at the discretion of individual clubs and is only mandatory when a person displays symptoms. Championship teams will only be screened after international breaks.
And, as we reported on Wednesday, that has led to concern among Premier League chiefs of their players and staff being exposed to coronavirus in the cup competitions.
Tottenham Hotspur are making ‘correct and appropriate’ arrangements with their opponent
One EFL club source said: ‘It is an impossible situation because EFL clubs cannot afford to be testing their staff and players every week and are no longer required to do so.
‘That means cases could go unnoticed and, like we’ve seen at Middlesbrough, there is the risk of a knock-on effect for other teams.
‘Premier League clubs are rightly concerned, but it’s up to them to take action now and protect themselves.’