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Premier League referees 'to warn captains over coronavirus protocols'

Premier League referees 'to warn captains over coronavirus protocols'
© Reuters
Match officials will specifically remind Premier League players of their responsibilities through pre-match meetings with captains.

Premier League referees will warn captains “the eyes of the world are on us” in a bid to stamp out goal celebrations amid tighter coronavirus restrictions.

Match officials will specifically remind Premier League players of their responsibilities through pre-match meetings with captains, the PA news agency understands.

Chief executive Richard Masters wrote to all the Premier League clubs on Tuesday, reiterating the importance of adhering to new, stricter coronavirus protocols.

Richard Masters File Photo
Chief executive Richard Masters has warned Premier League clubs to stick to tighter coronavirus protocols (Mike Egerton/PA)

Players still celebrated goals in Tuesday night’s three fixtures, but Premier League bosses are understood to expect their latest warnings to have an impact across the next round of fixtures.

Masters’ letter would only have been received by clubs late on Tuesday afternoon, so the six teams preparing for matches might not have been brought up to speed before kick-off.

Players have been told to avoid hugging, handshakes and swapping shirts as the coronavirus protocols are raised in the wake of several outbreaks at clubs and a clutch of postponed matches.

Michael Keane (second right) celebrates his winner for Everton
Players still celebrated goals in Tuesday night’s three fixtures (Tim Keeton/PA)

Manchester City host Brighton and Tottenham entertain Fulham on Wednesday night, and Premier League chiefs hope their latest directives will now start to sink in.

Referees are understood to have been told by Premier League bosses to remind players that Government support for football to continue is based around compliance with the strict protocols that were enhanced still further last week.

Officials have been told to tell captains “the eyes of the world are on us and we need to set an example”.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston threw his support behind Masters’ warning to Premier League clubs, issuing his own message to clubs on Wednesday morning.

“Everyone in the country has had to change the way they interact with people and ways of working,” the Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire tweeted.

“Footballers are no exception. Covid secure guidelines exist for football.

“Footballers must follow them and football authorities enforce them – strictly.”

The Premier League’s Covid officers have been granted extra powers to check dressing rooms and team buses to ensure compliance with social distancing measures.

Sheffield Wednesday’s next two Championship games have been suspended due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club.

The Owls reported a “significant number” of club personnel returned positive results for Covid-19 last week.

They managed to play Exeter in the FA Cup last weekend, but will not be able to face Coventry and Wycombe, on January 16 and 19 respectively, in the league.

A Wednesday statement read: “The club informed the EFL that we would be unable to fulfil the fixtures following recent positive Covid-19 tests and the requirement for players and staff to self-isolate as per EFL and Government guidance in order to mitigate against the risk of further infection.”

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