UEFA finally call off Spurs' Conference League clash with Rennes

UEFA FINALLY agree to postpone Covid-ravaged Tottenham’s Europa Conference League clash with Rennes, as the French club fume at a ‘lack of fair play’, 12 hours after Spurs claimed it was already off

  • UEFA have finally agreed to call off Tottenham’s European clash with Rennes
  • Spurs have been ravaged by a Covid outbreak within the team and can not train
  • The Premier League side reported at least 13 positive coronavirus cases
  • Tottenham claimed the game had been postponed on Wednesday evening 
  • Rennes accused them of making an ‘unilateral decision’ on the game

UEFA have confirmed that Tottenham’s Europa Conference League match with Rennes will not go ahead tonight after a Covid outbreak ripped through the Premier League side’s squad.

Spurs announced on Wednesday evening that the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would not be taking place after the club reported at least 13 positive coronavirus cases, with up to 11 players being forced to self-isolate.

However, the French side disputed the announcement made by Spurs 12 hours ago, claiming the decision to call off the game had been taken unilaterally by Tottenham and that they wanted to play the game on Thursday as scheduled.

UEFA confirm Tottenham’s Europa Conference League game with Rennes has been postponed

Conflicting reports this morning suggested that the game was due to go ahead with UEFA telling Spurs that they must play the game despite the Covid outbreak.

However, football’s European governing body later confirmed that the match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would not be taking place and would be rearranged for a later date.

On Thursday, UEFA released a short statement saying: ‘We can confirm that the match between Tottenham and Rennes will not take place tonight. Further info will follow in due course.’ 

Spurs officials had been in talks with UEFA on Wednesday with a view to getting the game halted after the club reported 17 Covid cases — eight players and nine members of staff. The outbreak is also understood to have reached the Under 23 squad. 

Spurs were understood to have just about enough players available, without the suspended Ryan Sessegnon plus their injured and Covid-affected players, to meet that threshold.

Tottenham reported at least 13 positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday – including 11 players 

But with their squad so severely weakened, they hoped common sense would prevail. There were also concerns about forcing Rennes to travel into a seemingly unsafe environment.

Rennes were furious with Spurs’ announcement on Wednesday that the game would be postponed, responding furiously with their own statement, claiming their English opponents refused to reveal the number of players affected by Covid-19 when competition rules state a match must be played as long as the team has 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper.

‘Following the press release published by Tottenham at 9pm, this Wednesday, Stade Rennais FC would like to clarify the following facts,’ the Ligue 1 club said.

‘In a video conference at 7.45pm between representatives of UEFA, Tottenham and SRFC, the Spurs director of football (Fabio Paratici) announced their intention not to play the UEFA Europa Conference League game on Thursday evening.

‘(This is a) unilateral decision which has not been confirmed by UEFA in any way.

‘The Tottenham representative did not want to announce the number of players affected by Covid when the rule states that a match must be played as long as the team has 13 outfielders and a keeper.

Rennes accused Tottenham of making an ‘unilateral decision’ over the fate of the game

‘He argued for a decision by the English authorities without advancing any official document.

‘As the match was not officially cancelled by UEFA, Stade Rennais FC upheld their decision to play.

‘Faced with this ‘London fog’, the SRFC reserves the right to approach UEFA. This lack of fair play is all the more glaring as Tottenham had confirmed by email that the match would be held at the start of the afternoon before warning Rennes of their intention not to play just after their landing in London City.’ 

With the game now postponed, Spurs face the tricky task of rescheduling the fixture before the December 31 date UEFA has set for all group games to be played. 

They have a jam-packed schedule with six other games to play this month, and could ask the Premier League to postpone a fixture or request that the EFL reschedule their Carabao Cup quarter-final with West Ham. 

The news will delight manager Antonio Conte, who on Wednesday revealed the players were ‘scared’ of passing the virus on to their families and insisted that the game should not go ahead.

The news will delight boss Antonio Conte, who revealed he was ‘scared’ about the outbreak 

A visibly upset Conte said: ‘The problem is every day we are having people with Covid.

‘People who yesterday weren’t positive, today are positive, and we continue to have contact. This is a serious problem. Not a good situation. Every day we are having positives.

Spurs face the tricky task of rescheduling the fixture before the December 31 date UEFA has set for all group games to be played

‘Everyone is a bit scared because we all have family and (think) why do I have to take this risk?

‘There are situations that made me very, very upset, very upset because the situation is serious and it is contagious and there is a big infection and now for sure we are a bit scared because tomorrow we don’t know what happens. Today we had the training session, we prepared the game and yesterday two other positives, today two other positives and tomorrow, who?

‘Me? Maybe. Better me than a player for sure but I think that it is not right for everyone because we have family and we have contact with them.’

Wednesday’s two positive results came following standard pre-match UEFA Covid checks. Given the outbreak, Spurs could conduct more on Thursday, raising the prospect of learning that the virus has spread further.

Tottenham’s statement also confirmed that the first-team area of their training ground would be shut — which casts huge doubt over their Premier League fixture against Brighton on Sunday. 

Spurs have also confirmed the first-team area of their training ground has been shut

Spurs will be hopeful of rearranging Sunday’s trip to Brighton after Newcastle, Aston Villa, Fulham and Manchester City had games called off last season due to similar-sized outbreaks. 

With those who have tested positive forced to isolate for 10 days, Spurs could also have issues with their games next week — at Leicester and at home against Liverpool.

Spurs’ outbreak began ahead of Sunday’s 3-0 win over Norwich, who were made aware of the situation and non-involvement of those affected players whose status was known at the time.

Norwich’s players were back in on Wednesday and tested with no issues reported.

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