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English professional football suspended amid COVID-19 outbreak

There will be no Premier League, FA Cup, Football League or Women’s Super League fixtures until at least April.

Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Basel - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

A statement released by the Premier League has announced that there will be no professional football played in England until at least April 4. That includes FA Cup, Football League and Women’s Super League fixtures. The suspension comes amid news that some six Premier League clubs are in self-isolation after players or staff reported symptoms of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi confirmed cases.

New public health protocols announced at a press conference by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday evening did not call for the suspension of large sporting events, though the sport’s governing bodies have opted in favour of the unprecedented measure. The Scottish FA has similarly suspended all professional and grassroots football under their jurisdiction “until further notice”.

The Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is quoted as saying: “Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19. In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.” The statement adds that it is the intention of the Premier League to reschedule the fixtures as soon as it is safe to do so, but given that the UK’s epidemic is not expected to peak until June, that could be quite a while.