Forest announce all players and staff test negative for coronavirus

The Championship club’s owner Evangelos Marinakis revealed he had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

By Press Association Published: 11 March 2020 - 4.17pm

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Football

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All Nottingham Forest players and staff have been given the all-clear for coronavirus, having been tested following club owner Evangelos Marinakis’ positive diagnosis.

The Greek businessman was in Nottingham last week and attended the Sky Bet Championship game against Millwall.

Forest are due to play Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Saturday, with the Yorkshire club understood to be in dialogue with Forest and the English Football League concerning the match.

But, with the EFL saying it will continue to follow government guidelines, Forest have confirmed no-one at the club has tested positive.

“Within hours of receiving the news that owner Evangelos Marinakis had tested positive for the virus, the club took swift action to arrange tests for the entire first-team players, staff and officers that came into contact with the owner last week,” they added in a statement.

“The club will remain in close dialogue with the relevant governing bodies and football authorities to ensure the correct measures are taken.”

Arsenal’s Premier League clash at Manchester City, which had been scheduled for Wednesday evening, was in the early hours of Wednesday morning postponed as a “precautionary measure”. Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta has not had to take the precaution, the PA news agency understands.

Marinakis, who owns Olympiacos as well as Forest, met Arsenal staff and players during the February 27 Europa League tie at the Emirates Stadium.

The statement added that there were currently no plans to postpone other matches.

The Arsenal squad are expected to train on Thursday if none of those in isolation begin to show symptoms – and no-one involved with the club requires testing for coronavirus – ahead of Saturday’s game at Brighton.

Wolves are due to play Olympiacos in Greece on Thursday after their bid to have the Europa League match postponed was turned down by UEFA. It will be played behind closed doors.

Olympiacos say none of their players or staff have tested positive for the virus.

A club statement read: “Olympiacos FC informs that after the necessary medical examinations of all members of the football department, managers and staff, the tests came out all negative for the COVID-19 virus.”

Wolves expressed their anger at the game going ahead in a statement, saying: “Our position is that the trip poses unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times.”

The Premier League issued a statement in the early hours of Wednesday confirming the postponement of the already rearranged fixture, adding: “We understand this will cause inconvenience and cost to fans planning to attend the game but Arsenal, Manchester City and the Premier League have agreed that the short notice of Mr Marinakis’ infection means there is no alternative but to take the time to complete a proper assessment of risk.”

The Wolves-Olympiacos match is one of many European ties that will take place without spectators.

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis revealed on Tuesday that he had contracted coronavirus.
Forest and Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis revealed on Tuesday that he had contracted coronavirus (Mike Egerton/PA)

Manchester United’s Europa League game at Austrian side LASK on Thursday, Chelsea’s Champions League clash at Bayern Munich next Wednesday and Rangers’ Europa League tie at Bayer Leverkusen next Thursday are also among them.

However, the ties between Sevilla and Roma and Inter Milan and Getafe have been postponed as a result of travel restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities.

Roma had earlier announced that they would not travel to Spain for their Europa League match against Sevilla on Thursday “due to lack of authorisation from local authorities”.

Despite Marinakis’ diagnosis, the EFL has no immediate plans to postpone any fixtures.

Confirming matches across its three divisions would continue as normal for the time being, an EFL statement said: “The League is in dialogue to fully ascertain the set of circumstances that existed when Mr Marinakis visited (Forest) last week and in conjunction with the club will make a determination on what measures are to be taken – if any – when full details are known.”

The Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava on March 26 will be played behind closed doors, while the Bosnia and Herzegovina federation has confirmed ticket sales for this month’s Euro 2020 play-off match with Northern Ireland – which were set to go on sale on Wednesday – have been suspended.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27 is set to go ahead, but Italy’s match against Germany in Nuremberg four days later will be played behind closed doors.

France will also play this month’s friendlies at home to Ukraine and Finland without spectators.

At least the next two rounds of LaLiga matches will be played without fans while games across the French leagues will be played behind closed doors until April 15, as will the 25th round of fixtures in Portugal’s top-two leagues. The French League Cup final has been postponed.

Italy’s Serie A was one of the first leagues to be suspended following the outbreak.

The Italian federation admitted the season may not be completed, which would leave the options of not having champions, making the current standings final or scheduling play-offs to determine the title winners and relegated clubs.

UEFA said it had received no requests from national associations to postpone Euro 2020, which is due to start in Rome on June 12 and be played across Europe.

World players’ union FIFPro has backed the postponement of matches and competitions rather than playing behind closed doors.

Hannover defender Timo Hubers, 23, has tested positive for the virus and is in quarantine at home while the rest of the playing staff will be tested, the German second-tier side said.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has issued guidance to its members and to clubs about measures they can take to help limit the spread of the virus.

The wide-ranging guidance covers personal hygiene and what players should do in the event that they or those close to them begin to display flu-like symptoms.

Clubs are advised to provide automatic dispensers for disinfectant in changing rooms and toilets, and to keep communal areas clean using disinfectant.

Elsewhere, three members of Formula One’s travelling staff members are in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Both British team McLaren and American team Haas confirmed that staff have been placed in quarantine after displaying symptoms.

A spokesperson for McLaren said: “We can confirm that one team member has self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution, in line with our policy, after showing symptoms similar to coronavirus.

“We are awaiting test results and currently do not have a definitive time-frame for these. The team is operating as per our normal schedule.”

MotoGP bosses have rescheduled the Argentina Grand Prix, which was due to take place next month, for November.

England cricketers have been instructed not to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans during their Test tour of Sri Lanka in a bid to insulate the squad from the virus.

“Whilst we acknowledge that this will be disappointing for some supporters, we stress that this a measure to protect the ongoing well-being of the England Test squad and is a decision which has not been taken lightly,” read a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Two more golf tournaments have been postponed as fears over the coronavirus outbreak continue to wreak havoc with the European Tour schedule.

Next week’s Hero Indian Open and August’s Czech Masters have joined this week’s Kenya Open and April’s Maybank Championship and China Open in falling victim.

With no regular European Tour events scheduled in the fortnight before the Masters, it means an eight-week gap between the staging of the Qatar Masters in Doha and the next regular event in Spain.