Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled



Posted Friday, March 13, 2020 by Express.co.uk

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled

Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Brighton this Saturday (3pm) has been cancelled after the Gunners confirmed on Thursday night that manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, with the entire first-team squad going into self-isolation as of Tuesday March 10.

An official statement read: “Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive COVID-19 result this evening.

"Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.

"We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.
 
"We expect those who did not have close contact with Mikel to return to work in the coming days. In the meantime our Colney and Hale End training centres will undergo a deep clean and our other club sites are operating as normal.”

The Premier League have confirmed they will hold an emergency meeting on Friday and said: "In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures. 

"The Premier League will make no further comment until after that meeting."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash left in doubt (Image: GETTY)

But soon after, Brighton said: "In light of the news that broke earlier on Thursday evening concerning Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and his first-team squad, we can confirm that Saturday’s match against Arsenal has now been postponed.

"Arsenal confirmed on Thursday night that their head coach has tested positive for the coronavirus, and that their entire first-team squad are now self-isolating.

"Chief executive Paul Barber commented, 'First and foremost our thoughts are with Mikel Arteta and we wish him a speedy recovery.

"'It’s absolutely essential the health and wellbeing of individuals takes priority and with that in mind Saturday’s match has been postponed.

"'We apologise to all fans for any inconvenience but trust everyone will understand that we are all facing an unprecedented situation.

"'The Premier League has announced this evening that they will convene an emergency meeting of all clubs tomorrow morning, and we will update supporters on future fixtures as and when we are in a position to do so.'”

Arteta told Arsenal's official website after contracting the virus: “This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Arsenal's match with Manchester City on Wednesday night had to be cancelled due to fears several members of the squad and the club's staff may have contracted COVID-19, which has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Some members of the Gunners' squad were in close promixity to Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis after they played the former club in the Europa League.

Mr Marinakis was later confirmed to have contracted the illness, with City confirming their match with Arsenal was postponed due "as a precautionary measure on medical advice".

And Arsenal said in their own statement: "The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low. However, we are strictly following the Government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.

"As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight's match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled (Image: GETTY)

"The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff - who were sitting close to Mr Marinakis during the match - will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete."

But it has now emerged that Arteta has also contracted COVID-19.

And the north London club added in a fresh statement on Thursday: "We will work with Public Health England on the next steps in regard to our facilities and staff, and with the Premier League, Football Association and relevant clubs around our forthcoming matches in the Premier League and Emirates FA Cup. 

"It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates. We will update supporters who have tickets for forthcoming games with more information as soon as possible.
 
"We are now working to trace any other people who have had recent close contact with Mikel.  We will let them know what has happened and they should follow the NHS guidance which is likely to recommend self-isolation."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash left in doubt (Image: GETTY)

Arsenal’s managing director Vinai Venkatesham said: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is.

"Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.” 

Meanwhile head of football Raul Sanllehi added: “Mikel and the full first-team squad, players and staff, will be fully supported, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.

"Obviously Mikel’s full recovery is the priority now for us all.”

Arsenal are scheduled to face Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday 22 March but the 14-day self-isolation period means that match too is unlikely to be played.

The Gunners are not scheduled to play again after that until April 4, when they face Norwich.

Just an hour before Arsenal's statement on Arteta, the Premier League had said that that this weekend's fixtures would go ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared at Downing Street on Thursday that sporting events would not be cancelled just yet.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash cancelled
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tests positive for coronavirus as Brighton clash left in doubt (Image: GETTY)

"We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures," he said.

"The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread - but it does place a burden on other public services.

And a statement from the Premier League later read: “Following the latest update from Government issued this afternoon, all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend.

"While the Prime Minister advised that all sporting events should take place as normal for now, he also indicated that Government is considering banning major public events, like sporting fixtures.

"We are therefore continuing to work closely with our clubs, Government, The FA, EFL and other relevant stakeholders to ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place as and when circumstances change.

"The welfare of players, staff and supporters is of paramount importance and we will continue to follow Public Health England guidelines thoroughly.

"We will keep everyone updated as appropriate.”

But that stance may well change in light of Arteta testing positive for the disease, which increases the chances the Premier League as a whole will follow the lead of Serie A, La Liga, the Eredivisie and the MLS in pushing back all fixtures for at least a few weeks.

As of 11pm on Thursday evening, 134,500 cases were reported worldwide from over 120 countries wolrwide.

The disease has claimed the lives of almost 5,000 people while close to 69,000 have recovered.

In the UK, 10 people have died with confirmed cases over 600, over 500 of which are in England.

PM Johnson said on Thursday: "This is the worst public health crisis for a generation.

"I must level with the British public – many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.
The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that there are likely to be between 5,000 and 10,000 coronavirus cases in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

He also added that the UK is "about four weeks or so behind Italy and some other countries in Europe".

Italy are currently in almost complete lockdown, with all shops except food stores and pharmacies closed and schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues also shut down.

Serie A has been suspended until at least April 3 with Italians urged to remain at home to prevent any further spread of the virus.



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