The rescheduled Premier League game between Manchester City and Arsenal on Wednesday 11th March has been postponed as a “precautionary measure” over coronavirus fears. It also came as Arsenal players are in self-isolation after Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the coronavirus after their game with the London team.
Arsenal played the Greek team in the Europa League on February 27 and Marinakis had come into contact with both players and staff at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have said that risk of the players contracting the virus is ‘extremely low’ but members of the squad have been told to observe a 14-day period of self-isolation starting from the time they came into contact with Marinakis.
Marinakis – who also owns Championship side Nottingham Forest said on Tuesday he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Arsenal have also confirmed that the players who engaged with Marinakis are due to return to training on Friday and should be available for the Saturday’s fixture against Brighton.
The Premier League says it has no plans to postpone any other matches and “all necessary measures are being taken” coronavirus fears.
The disease, which can cause a fever, cough and breathing problems, is spreading around the world and has already affected more than 116,000 people.
It has impacted on the staging of sports events around the world, with Italy’s Serie A suspended and French and Spanish top-flight games being played behind closed doors.
European matches involving Manchester United, Rangers and Chelsea will be held behind closed doors in Austria and Germany in the coming days over coronavirus fears, but this is the first match in the UK to be affected.
The postponement means Premier League leaders Liverpool can no longer win their first title since 1990 this weekend.
Liverpool would have been crowned champions if City had lost to Arsenal at Etihad Stadium and then also been beaten by Burnley on Saturday.
Arsenal in a statement said: “The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low.
However, we are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.
“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.
“The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff, who were sitting close to Mr Marinakis during the match will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete.”
The club said it would refund supporters with tickets and was also contacting other Arsenal staff or guests who shared the directors’ box restaurant during the game on 27 February.
“We understand this will cause inconvenience and cost to fans planning to attend the game but Arsenal, Manchester City and the Premier League have agreed that the short notice of Mr Marinakis’ infection means there is no alternative but to take the time to complete a proper assessment of risk,” the Premier League said in a statement.