Everton vs Manchester United postponed as Casey Stoney apologises for ‘poor error in judgement’

Casey Stoney has apologised for a “poor error in judgement” after allowing Manchester United Women players to travel to Dubai over Christmas, with their game against Everton now postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak and series of injuries in the Toffees’ camp.

Everton were set to host the Women’s Super League (WSL) fixture on Sunday, but the game was called off after the club reported five Covid-19 cases and six injuries – leaving them with just 13 players available to face United.

And, although it was not an issue at her own club that caused the postponement, United manager Stoney has apologised for allowing her players to travel to Dubai over the festive period.

“I granted permission for my players to go home and see their families to have a break,” she is reported by The Athletic as having said.

READ MORE: Villa vs Arsenal off after Gunner who travelled to Dubai contracts Covid

“I do trust my players wholeheartedly to stick within government guidelines.

“Everything we allowed them to do was within government guidelines, but I have to be honest and on reflection it was a poor error in judgement from me.

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“I am sincerely sorry for that. The buck starts with me and it stops with me.”

Stoney admitted that Jackie Groenen had returned to the Netherlands over Christmas, Ona Batlle to Spain, and Ivana Fuso to Germany. All three players reportedly self-isolated and received coronavirus tests before returning to training. 

“It was the right thing to do by them as people because of where they were at,” Stoney said.

“When people are stuck at home and can’t see families and they see players on holidays – I can understand the frustration in that. 

“At the end of the day it was a club decision and unfortunately it wasn’t the right one.

“I’ve made an error,” the former England defender continued. “I’ll look into it deeply and the impact it’s had on people and the reaction it’s caused. 

“I am deeply, deeply sorry for that. Anybody that is deemed to be breaking club protocols or government guidelines, I take very seriously and I will deal with internally.”

United’s trip to Everton does not mark the only WSL fixture to have been postponed this week. Manchester City’s hosting of West Ham was called off due to a number of coronavirus cases in the City squad, while Arsenal’s away game at Aston Villa was also postponed. 

The latter match was called off after the Gunners reported a Covid case relating to a player who had visited the United Arab Emirates over the Christmas break, despite London being under tier 4 restrictions that meant travelling abroad was not permitted except for business purposes. 

Three players travelled to the UAE, and – upon their return – one of them tested positive for coronavirus in the second round of testing, with the first showing negative results for all three players.

Man City’s Continental League Cup quarter-final against Chelsea – originally scheduled for next Wednesday – has also been postponed, as has Crystal Palace’s quarter-final against Leicester.

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