In Brief

Football in turmoil: Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi test positive for coronavirus

English football is suspended until 3 April at the earliest

Football was thrown into turmoil last night as it emerged that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had both tested positive for coronavirus.

The news came after the Premier League announced that this weekend’s fixtures would go ahead. However, it was confirmed today that all matches are now postponed until 3 April at the earliest. 

Spaniard Arteta was, according to the Daily Mail, “the first confirmed member of staff of a Premier League team to contract the disease”.

But the paper says that the 37-year-old did not come into contact with Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who earlier this week revealed he is infected, during their Europa League game on 27 February.

In a statement released on Arsenal’s official website, Arteta said: “This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

The Gunners also confirmed that their London Colney training centre has been closed. The north London club said: “Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines. 

“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.”

Arteta is said to be “in good spirits” and Arsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi told the club website: “Mikel and the full first-team squad, players and staff, will be fully supported, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows. Obviously Mikel’s full recovery is the priority now for us all.”

A few hours after Arteta’s announcement, Chelsea revealed that 19-year-old Hudson-Odoi had also tested positive. 

A club statement said: “Chelsea personnel who had recent close contact with the player in the men’s team building will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines. These will include initially the full men’s team squad, coaching staff and a number of backroom staff.”

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Return on 4 April?

Following Arteta and Hudson-Odoi testing positive for coronavirus the Premier League, Football Association (FA), English Football League (EFL) and the Women’s Super League (WSL) have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until 3 April at the earliest.

A statement said: “Following a meeting of shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time.” 

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “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.

“Despite the challenges, it is the Premier League’s aim to reschedule the displaced fixtures, including those played by Academy sides, when it is safe to do so. In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate.”

Today’s back pages

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