Tottenham vs Rennes clash is OFF due to Spurs’ Covid-19 outbreak confirm Uefa with clubs at loggerheads
European football’s governing body said the game had been postponed and talks were ongoing with both clubs over a new date, following an extraordinary statement from Rennes on Wednesday night accusing Spurs of a “lack of fair play” and “unilaterally” cancelling the fixture.
Uefa rules state that all group games must be completed by December 31, but Spurs have no free midweeks before the turn of the year, with a packed festive schedule including a Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham on December 22 – the day of Rennes’ last fixture before a two-week winter break.
The club announced at 9pm on Wednesday that Thursday night’s game would not go ahead and that they had closed the first-team area of their training ground on advice from the Government and Health Security Agency. The decision followed more positive cases at the club over the course of Wednesday.
A visibly-distressed Antonio Conte revealed eight first-team players and five members of staff had tested positive at a 2pm virtual press conference, with the head coach painting a bleak picture of fear and uncertainty at Hotspur Way as the virus continued to spread unchecked.
“[I am] very upset, very upset because the situation is serious and it is contagious. There is a big infection and now we are a bit scared because tomorrow we don’t know what happens,” Conte said.
The Italian left the training ground at around 3pm and Spurs subsequently decided not to play the game following internal discussions at the club and talks with Uefa.
Rennes, who arrived at London City Airport at 7.30pm, reacted with fury to Spurs’s statement, accusing them of making a “unilateral decision which has not been confirmed by Uefa in any way”.
Uefa rules state clubs must fulfil a fixture if they have 13 senior players, including a goalkeeper, available, with Conte believed to have approximately 15 eligible players after training.
Rennes’ statement continued: “The Tottenham representative [director Rebecca Caplehorn] did not want to announce the number of her 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. She argued for a decision by the English authorities without advancing any official document. As the match was not officially canceled by Uefa, Stade Rennais FC upheld their decision to play.
“Faced with this “London fog”, [we] reserve 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.”
The French club, managed by Bruno Genesio, returned to Brittany on Thursday morning after the whole party returned negative tests and apologised to their travelling supporters.
Spurs need a result to maintain their hopes of reaching a two-legged play-off to qualify for the knockouts, with their task to become clear after Vitesse play NS Mura in the group’s other fixture on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Premier League board is expected to postpone this weekend’s game at the Amex Stadium, with little chance of the fixture taking place now that Spurs are unable to train.
Next Thursday’s game at Leicester is also at risk, particularly as the Foxes are without seven players due to Covid or illness for their Europa League match at Napoli, although there is no rush to make a decision, with Spurs working on a game-by-game basis.
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