Norwich City expect Saints clash to go ahead but issue advice amid coronavirus concerns
- Credit: PA
Norwich City issued a statement assuring supporters the Premier League home clash with Southampton will go ahead earlier this week but The Times report on Thursday a potential shift in the government's approach could lead to games behind closed doors.
City, along with all football clubs in England, continue to receive guidance from the relevant government and football governing bodies about the containment of the Covid-19 virus ahead of Saturday's home clash with Southampton in the top flight.
However, the match remains unaffected for the time being, with the Canaries releasing a statement on Wednesday - and providing hygiene advice for fans, see below.
But The Times report the rapidly moving situation could see the government shift the response to the virus to the 'delay' phase once the confirmed number of cases in the UK reaches 500. The numbe was 460 on Wednesday night.
The football authorities had already been advised to embark on a range of 'contingency planning measures' and a number of leagues across Europe have announced matches will take place behind closed doors. In Italy all sport has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.
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The Times claim in the event the Premier League, Football League and FA react to any fresh government measures by opting to play behind closed doors one of the options being considered is for season ticket holders to be given access to the game via streams, to mitigate the mass gathering of fans in pubs or other public places.
Prior to The Times Thursday report, City's statement confirmed they are monitoring a fluid situation.
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A club spokesman said: 'While the risk to the public has risen from low to moderate, the weekend's Premier League game against Southampton at Carrow Road will go ahead as scheduled.
'The club have been advised that supporters and members of the public should avoid shaking hands and other physical interaction with each other, as well as with players and staff. It is with regret that the opportunity to meet and greet players and staff both before and after the Southampton fixture will not be possible.
'Matchday mascots packages and pre-match tours will operate on a streamlined and controlled basis.
'The Premier League's pre-match handshake between both sets of players has also been postponed until further notice.'
The statement concluded: 'The club will continue to be advised and guided by the Premier League, government and the NHS on the situation as it develops. A further update from the club will be issued at the earliest opportunity should it be necessary.'
The impact on the sporting calendar remains an evolving issue however, with some midweek games in European competitions being played behind closed doors and with the football season on hold until at least April 12 in Italy, due to the advancement of the outbreak in the worst hit European country - where there have been over 9,000 confirmed cases and more than 450 deaths.
In contrast, six people have died in the UK and a total of under 400 people have tested positive for the flu-like virus, which can be particularly dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
However, the NHS has said an epidemic in the UK is 'likely', with people who think they may be affected by coronavirus advised to call the NHS 111 phone service for further advice - and not to go to their GP or A&E.
Furthermore, there have so far been no confirmed cases in Norfolk, with 29 in the East of England region in latest figures, including just one in Suffolk and one in Cambridgeshire.
National newspaper reports at the weekend had suggested the Premier League is considering a plan to ban over-70s from attending games but no such official guidance has been made so far.
After this Saturday's home game against Southampton (3pm kick-off), the Canaries are due to host Manchester United at Carrow Road in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, March 22 (4.30pm), which is followed by a break from league action for scheduled international fixtures.
- Washing hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
- Always wash hands when you get home or into work
- Using hand sanitiser gels if soap and water are not available
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Putting used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards - catch it, bin it, kill it
- Trying to avoid contact with people who are showing symptoms of coronavirus
- Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- If you have recently travelled to the UK from countries with a higher risk of coronavirus you should seek medical advice (click here for high-risk countries). If you have been to one of these countries in the past 14 days find out what to do using the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service.
- If you are experiencing symptoms (which include a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath) or have been to any high-risk areas, the Government advice is to call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately.
- Anyone with flu symptoms should avoid the risk of spreading the infection by staying at home and recovering.
- The club are relying on everyone to play to their part and be transparent about any potential level of risk.
Arsenal's scheduled trip to Manchester City this evening was postponed, with a Premier League statement explaining: 'Tonight's Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed as a precautionary measure following the announcement on Tuesday that (Olympiacos owner) Evangelos Marinakis has contracted COVID-19.
'Thirteen days ago, Olympiacos played Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the UEFA Europa League and Mr Marinakis met with several Arsenal squad members and staff.
'Following medical advice, Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC consider it is necessary to postpone their fixture due to be played this evening, Wednesday 11 March, to give time to fully assess the situation.
'The Premier League has therefore agreed that tonight's match will be rearranged.
'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.
'All necessary measures are being taken and the Premier League currently has no plans to postpone any other matches.'
Marinakis is also the owner of Championship club Nottingham Forest and attended Friday's 3-0 home defeat to Millwall, but have now confirmed 'all players, staff and officers have been tested for the coronavirus and all results have come back negative'.
With the outbreak still evolving on a global scale, it remains to be seen how the situation will evolve in the coming days and weeks in wider society, as well as in sport.
- Join our Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook group to keep up to date with how the coronavirus is affecting Norfolk.