Watford have said one of their players and two staff members tested positive for coronavirus. The trio are among six individuals across three Premier League clubs to have tested positive for Covid-19, with the Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan the only person identified as having done so.
Watford have been one of the most outspoken clubs regarding plans to restart the Premier League in June. The squad are due return to training on Wednesday but the captain, Troy Deeney, has said he will not participate and the manager, Nigel Pearson, has raised concerns about a coronavirus-related death in the league.
Watford said all three club members would isolate for seven days before being tested again, in line with Premier League guidelines.
This week Deeney said he had raised questions at a meeting involving the league and captains and had not been satisfied it was safe to train. “We’re due back in this week; I’ve said I’m not going,” he told Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew on their Talk the Talk YouTube show. “Within the meeting I asked very simple questions. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and twice as likely to have long lasting illness. Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff, to see if anyone has a problem?
“I feel that should be addressed. I can’t get a haircut until mid-July but I can go and get in a box with 19 people and jump for a header? I don’t know how that works. No one could answer the questions – not because they didn’t want to, because they didn’t have the information. I just said: ‘If you don’t know the information, why would I put myself at risk?’”
Pearson told the Times in an article published last Saturday: “God forbid we have a fatality. People are closing their eyes to the threat. Yes, we would like to restart it but it’s got to be safe. We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. It’s about safeguarding people’s health.”
Premier League protocols have been drawn up in consultation with the government and health officials. Covid-19 tests were conducted on 748 players and staff at 19 clubs on Sunday and Monday and the 20th club completed testing on Tuesday; their figures will be included in the results from a second round of testing, due to be published on Saturday.
Burnley said of Woan: “Ian is asymptomatic and is currently safe and well at home. He will remain in close communication with club personnel regarding his re-engagement in training once he is clear of the virus.”
Premier League clubs were allowed to resume training, on a physically distanced basis, on Tuesday.