The removal of mandatory COVID-19 testing in the EFL is financially understandable, but could have grave consequences for clubs, players and everyone…
Just as COVID 19-related restrictions are being strengthened around the country, it emerges that the mandatory testing rules for EFL clubs have been removed.
Testing is only now required for people showing symptoms, or after an international break in the Championship, and in Leagues One and Two if players have been on duty or have spent an extended period of time away.
The reasons are understandable, with tests costing between £100-150 each meaning a weekly bill for testing 100 people before two games a week could be £30,000.
Some clubs are running their own tests anyway, but as the panel discussed on The Totally Football League Show this week, the concerns are clear.
“It seems very risky,” said Adrian Clarke. “I understand the financial implications, but I hope this is some kind of play from the EFL and clubs to get somebody to effectively sponsor these tests and subsidise them. It is a prohibitive cost for many of these teams, but I just don’t see how they can go into matches not knowing if half your team has COVID or not. They could become breeding grounds for the virus.
“Something’s got to give here. I get it, but it seems risky.”
Should the EFL be footing the bill here?
“When I compare it to women’s football it’s the FA footing the bill,” said Flo Lloyd-Hughes.
“I don’t want to be a snitch, but on Saturday neither Wimbledon nor Plymouth’s subs were even wearing masks. I think with everything going on around us and cases rising, it is a risk to take this away.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if things unravelled quite quickly.”
Quite apart from the broader public health risks, this of course has a direct impact on the players involved.
“These players are no different from the rest of us,” said Si Watts. “They’ve got relatives/elderly relatives they’re going to be in contact with every day after they’ve played in matches, or been to training. Not to mention the staff who work in training grounds every day and come into contact with them.
“It creates a massive dilemma for players: I spoke to a number of them in the summer about the return of football and how they felt about that, and without testing they were very, very reluctant to come back. We’re a lot further down the line now on the one hand, but this is a problem heading into the winter.
“It’s not like the players are going to be quarantined between matches, they’re going to be mixing with the general public. I just think it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
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