Tottenham have questioned the Premier League’s decision to postpone Sunday’s North London derby against Arsenal.
The game was controversially called off on Saturday afternoon following a request from the Gunners.
“With Arsenal having fewer than the required number of players available for the match [13 outfield players and one goalkeeper], the board accepted the club’s application,” said the Premier League.
“The decision is a result of a combination of Covid, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“All clubs are able to apply for a postponement if Covid infections are a factor in their request.”
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Tottenham, though, are not happy with the Premier League’s reasons for postponing the fixture and have made their feelings known.
“We regret to announce that Sunday’s North London derby against Arsenal has been postponed,” read a statement on Spurs’ website.
“This follows an application from Arsenal to the Premier League on the basis of a combination of Covid, existing and recent injuries and players on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“We are extremely surprised that this application has been approved.
“We ourselves were disqualified from the European Conference League after a significant number of Covid cases meant we needed to reschedule a fixture and our application to move our Leicester fixture was not approved – only for it to be subsequently postponed when Leicester applied.
“The original intention of the guidance – here – was to deal with player availability directly affected by Covid cases, resulting in depleted squads that when taken together with injuries would result in the club being unable to field a team.
“We do not believe it was the intent to deal with player availability unrelated to Covid. We may now be seeing the unintended consequences of this rule.
“It is important to have clarity and consistency on the application of the rule. Yet again fans have seen their plans disrupted at unacceptably short notice.
“We shall once again send food deliveries to the local food banks to avoid unacceptable waste. We are sincerely sorry for our fans – some of whom will have travelled great distances.”
Paul Dennis/TGS Photo/REX/Shutterstock)
Several pundits have criticised the Premier League’s decision, including Manchester United legend Gary Neville.
“What started out as postponements due to a pandemic has now become about clubs not having their best team,” Neville tweeted.
“The Premier League must stop this now, draw a line in the sand and say all games go ahead unless you have an exceptional amount of CV (coronavirus) cases. It’s wrong.”
Speaking on Friday, Neville also said: “[Folarin] Balogun’s gone on loan, [Ainsley] Maitland-Niles has gone on loan, Xhaka’s got a red card – that’s not the fault of anybody else.
“We can’t be calling fixtures off. If it was purely down to Covid and extraordinary circumstances where there were 10 or 15 players out [it would be acceptable].”