Revealed: How many players Sheffield United and Championship rivals need available to complete a game amid rise in Covid-19 cases and QPR, Preston postponements

Sheffield United and their Championship rivals will be expected to fulfil fixtures for the remainder of the season if they have as few as 14 fit and healthy players, according to EFL guidance amid a predicted rise in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks and months.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 11:47 am

United’s clash with Preston North End on Boxing Day was postponed on Thursday morning when the Lancashire club informed the EFL that they would be unable to fulfil the fixture.

That follows the postponment of United’s home clash with Queens Park Rangers earlier this month after a number of coronavirus cases in the Rangers camp, leading to concerns over fixture backlog when it comes to fitting rearranged games into an already-clogged schedule.

As The Star reported recently, the Blades have adopted a number of changes to their operations at the Shirecliffe training base, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 amid concerns about the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

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And in line with the Premier League and FA, EFL clubs are expected to do all they can to fulfil fixtures – with an expectation from the Football League that a game should proceed if 14 fit players are available.

However, it is the decision of individual clubs as to whether they can fulfil a fixture, rather than the EFL. Clubs have to explain the circumstances behind any postponement to the league afterwards, with an investigation carried out.

The EFL concede that eradicating transmission of Covid-19 between players and staff of its clubs is impossible, but steps can be taken to manage it – including recent suggestions to stagger training types, group players and staff according to their vaccination status and suspend the practice of sharing hotel rooms on away trips.

Sheffield United's trip to Preston North End on Boxing Day has been postponed (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

According to the EFL’s regulations, “in the event of any league match not being played owing to … causes over which neither club has any control” the game should be rearranged to a date mutually arranged, but at the earliest possible opportunity.

The new date, according to league rules, must be agreed within seven days – with a home clash against QPR and the away trip to Preston to be added to the Blades’ fixture calendar in the new year.