Preston players to be tested twice-weekly for Covid as EFL rolls out new testing programme
Preston North End players will now be tested twice a week for COVID-19, the EFL has announced.
PNE, and the other 71 clubs that make up the EFL, will be part of a new testing programme announced by the league and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in response to the rise in cases among football clubs across the country.
An EFL statement said: “The re-introduction of a league-wide testing programme follows this week’s round of mandatory Coronavirus tests and is designed to complement the league’s recently enhanced matchday and non-matchday COVID protocols with funding provided by the PFA earlier this season.
“Medical advice continues to support that following these protocols is the most successful route to mitigating against the spread of infection but given the emergence of a new strain of the COVID virus, it is acknowledged that additional testing where it is not currently happening may help with the early identification and isolation of asymptomatic individuals.
“The tests have initially been procured from the private sector and will be fully funded by the PFA following discussions that have taken place with the EFL across the past 72-hour period.”
A number of Championship clubs have seen outbreaks recently, including Derby County this week, who could be forced to play their youth team in the FA Cup against Chorley on Saturday.
EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “We have repeatedly maintained that adhering to the stringent protocols implemented during the re-start last summer and then across all Clubs since the beginning of the season was going to be our best chance of beating the virus and to keep playing matches.
“Only last week we took the decision to enhance these to further minimise risk, though with the new strain of the virus taking hold across parts of the country, it is now clear from our discussions with our medical advisors and public health officials that additional testing, operated in conjunction with strict protocols, may prove beneficial in the immediate short-term.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the PFA for their support in helping us to finalise a position on testing across all three divisions on a twice-weekly basis. We will continue to review the situation and make any adjustments or changes as circumstances dictate with the health and well-being of our players and club staff the overwhelming priority.”
The move comes after it was revealed today that the whole of Derby's first-team squad are set to miss their FA Cup third-round tie with Chorley on Saturday because of a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
Discussions are ongoing to try to avoid the need for the Championship club to forfeit the tie, despite the entire first-team squad in isolation and the club's Moor Farm training ground being closed until Tuesday as a precaution.
Plans are being put in place for Derby's youth players to represent the club in Saturday's game, with a combination of Under-23 and Under-18 players making up the matchday squad, with academy director Darren Wassell in charge rather than Wayne Rooney.