Arsenal manager Arteta tests positive for COVID-19

Mikel Arteta
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LONDON – Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, the football club have confirmed.

The full first-team squad and anyone else who has been in recent close contact with Arteta has been told to self-isolate.

In a statement, the club said: “Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive COVID-19 result this evening.

“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.”

The statement added: “It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates.

“We will update supporters who have tickets for forthcoming games with more information as soon as possible.”

Emergency meeting

The Premier League will hold an emergency meeting on Friday after it was revealed Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had contracted coronavirus.

It came just hours after English football was given the green light to carry on as normal by the government on Thursday night as much of the rest of the sporting world was shut down in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

On an unprecedented day of cancellations football league programmes in Spain, Portugal, Holland and the United States were suspended alongside postponements in rugby, tennis, golf, basketball and athletics, while England’s Test series in Sri Lanka that is due to start next week came under threat and more doubts were raised over whether this summer’s European Championship and Olympics will take place as planned.

Manchester United players pictured celebrating with their fans after beating rivals City

Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring for Manchester United in an empty stadium on Thursday night

It was revealed on Thursday night that Mikel Arteta had contracted the coronavirus

A Premier League statement said: ‘In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures.

‘The Premier League will make no further comment until after that meeting.’

UEFA will hold talks with the 55 national associations and representatives of Europe’s leading clubs next Tuesday to discuss contingency planning for the European Championship, including taking the dramatic step of postponing the tournament for 12 months.

If that is agreed then this summer will be used to schedule any outstanding Champions League and Europa League fixtures, as several knockout matches have already been postponed, as well as giving time to complete any unfinished domestic leagues. La Liga and Serie A have both been suspended.

Amid an atmosphere of uncertainty several other radical proposals will also be discussed, including shortening the Euros by cutting the number of teams and scrapping the qualification play-offs due to take place this month, which will be strongly opposed by those involved including Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

UEFA are also considering a truncated Champions League and Europa League in an attempt to ensure both competitions are completed this season by reducing the remaining knockout rounds from two legs to one.

A Chelsea fan is seen wearing a protective mask at last week's match at Stamford Bridge

Manchester City's Champions League match with Real Madrid was postponed on Thursday

The Premier League and EFL will, as it stands, continue as normal in front of packed crowds this weekend in a stark contrast to the situation elsewhere in Europe, and the status quo will remain until the government alters its advice on mass gatherings, which may not be for several more weeks.

Boris Johnson raised the spectre of eventually banning sporting events or restricting crowds on Thursday, but emphasised scientific advice he has received that large crowds do not in themselves carry a huge additional risk.

‘We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures,’ he said. ‘The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread, but it does place a burden on other public services.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave English football the green light to carry on as normal

English clubs’ European campaigns have been affected however, with Manchester City’s last 16 Champions League knockout tie against Real Madrid next week postponed as the Spanish club are in quarantine.

That is the second postponement City have experienced in as many days after their Premier League game with Arsenal was called off in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and the club are understood to be unhappy with the guidance they have received from the league headquarters.

Rugby union in England followed football’s lead, with the Premiership set to continue after the Pro14 fixtures in Scotland, Wales and Ireland were suspended indefinitely. – Additional from reporting Sky News and Agencies.