Newcastle United have been forced to postpone their Premier League match against Aston Villa, with the entire first-team squad self-isolating due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
Four players and one member of the backroom staff have tested positive for the virus, and the club have ordered a set of COVID-19 tests as a safety precaution. The aforementioned players and staff have not been named by the club.
The club’s training facility has been shut down for the foreseeable and deep cleaned after the squad ‘bubble’ were issued a blanket quarantine.
The Magpies were due to visit the West Midlands on Friday but the game will be the first Premier League fixture to be called off this season due to the virus.
Newcastle issued a statement which read: “Several Newcastle United players and staff members are now self-isolating at home after returning positive test results in recent days and the club’s training centre site has been temporarily closed in order to contain the spread of the virus.
“With the Magpies’ first team currently unable to prepare for the match as a group, Newcastle United lodged a request with the Premier League to postpone the fixture at Villa Park, which has been approved by the Premier League board.
“Despite previously experiencing only a very small number of isolated COVID-19 cases, positive test results have risen sharply in recent days.
“Accordingly, the club is now working with Public Health England North East (PHE), local health authorities and the Premier League in line with COVID-19 protocols to identify the source of the outbreak and to ensure the risk of further transmission continues to be minimised.
“All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and a meeting between the club, Premier League and PHE will take place to assess the test results.
“The club will not be naming individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and asks that their privacy is respected.”
West Bromwich Albion are scheduled to travel to St James’ Park on 12 December but it remains to be seen whether the fixture will go ahead as planned.
The Premier League confirmed that the game against Aston Villa has been called off: “Newcastle lodged a request with the Premier League to rearrange the game following a significant increase in COVID-19 cases at the club which resulted in Public Health England North East advising that their training facilities remain closed.
“The Premier League board agreed, as a consequence, that the club are unable to train and adequately and safely prepare for their match on Friday.
“The decision has been taken in consultation with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and following extensive consultation with PHE and Premier League medical advisors, with the health of players and staff the priority.”
Top flight rivals Aston Villa also passed their best wishes on to Newcastle in a statement released by the club which said it hoped for a ‘speedy recovery’ for those affected by the virus.
Newcastle who sit 13th in the Premier League table, are looking to push on after recording a resounding 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace last week. However, the club will have to follow COVID-19 protocols until it is safe to resume games.