The Premier League confirmed on Thursday that the Liverpool v Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford games scheduled for Boxing Day have been postponed due to 19 cases in the visiting teams.
The Premier League has had 12 games called off owing to COVID-19 outbreaks in the last two weeks, but the League has stated that it intends to continue playing fixtures “whenever safely practicable.”
“Following postponement requests from Leeds United and Watford as a result of COVID-19, the Premier League Board met this morning and regrettably agreed to call off the two affected clubs’ Boxing Day fixtures,” it said in a statement.
“The Board today was able to make its decisions in advance of Boxing Day to give clarity to clubs and their supporters. We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to those fans’ festive plans.”
Leeds would have been unable to complete the match due to a number of players suffering from COVID-19, injuries, and illness, according to the League.
All of the COVID-19 instances Leeds has seen have been asymptomatic. On the instruction of Public Health England, the club’s training ground will be shuttered for two days.
Watford, who have already had two games put off this month due to a lack of players, are still unable to form a team, according to the League.
“Due to players coming out of isolation, it is fully expected Watford will be available for their fixture on Tuesday 28 December, against West Ham United,” the League added.
The Premier League will only allow a postponement if a club has fewer than 14 players available, and the board will consider each request individually.
Requests to postpone games have been turned down by clubs such as Chelsea. Leicester City’s request was also denied before the League was forced to act after more players and staff tested positive on the day of their match against Tottenham Hotspur.
The situation is even worse in the lower leagues, with four second-tier Championship games postponed on Boxing Day owing to COVID-19 instances, as well as 11 games in League One and League Two.