Sean Dyche calls for more transparency over Premier League criteria for Covid postponements

Sean Dyche is hoping for more transparency from the Premier League over their criteria for games to be postponed.

Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche

Burnley are waiting on a report from the league as to the full details regarding Wednesday night's game with Watford at Turf Moor, which was called off two and a half hours before kick-off, with the club only finding out around 20 minutes before that.

A number of Premier League clubs have requested that games be called off, as COVID cases rise, with some requests allowed, and others not.

Tottenham and Manchester United have had two league games postponed, while Leicester were initially denied permission to call off Thursday night's game against Spurs, which eventually was postponed.

Norwich City boss Dean Smith, who had four players missing to coronavirus protocols for their 2-0 defeat against former club Aston Villa on Tuesday, said there should be a "magic number" for the amount of cases to force a game to be called off, with league rules determining that a match cannot be postponed if clubs have 14 or more players available.

Each request has been considered on an individual basis, and Dyche is one of a number of managers who would like some clarity on the situation: "That is why we’re waiting on the report from our game, to understand what are going to be the reasons to call a game off and what are the cut-off points.

"Imagine we are talking beyond health and welfare, which I don’t want to undermine - after that, what are the situations likely to occur to get a game called off?

"That is where we are a little grey."

Premier League clubs each submitted a 25-man squad list for the season, with no more than 17 players who do not fulfil the "Home Grown Player" criteria.

Clubs can also use registered Under-21 players, over and above the squad limit of 25 players.

So, Dyche wonders whether some of the clubs with an abundance of players could not field a team of some description: "A lot of the clubs having games called off carry massive squads.

"If I phoned one of the more powerful clubs and said 'we want player X', and they tell me '£15m', and yet they have a couple of Covid cases and don't play player X, you go, how are they worth £15m then?

"In theory, when do we come to a time when we say we just have to play, within reason, the players that you have got?

"I don’t know when we get to that point, but imagine if this keeps going, how many games do you call off and how long do you wait to get back on?

"There is nothing to say there won’t be Covid cases when we try to slide in the games we’ve missed.

"You have these squads for a reason and these Under-20s, and we do talk about development and how these young players are not getting a chance."

After the league was put on hold from March to June in 2020, Burnley struggled to fill their bench upon Project Restart, using two goalkeepers at times, while several youngsters were named, including 18-year-old Max Thompson, who came on for his debut in the 5-0 defeat at Manchester City, while left back Erik Pieters operated on the left and right of midfield, and centrally.

That was different, in that Burnley had no COVID cases, but injuries, a small squad, and, with the lateness of the restart, players leaving as their contracts expired at the end of June, left Dyche thin on the ground in terms of options.

He said: "Last time we had loads of injuries, Covid was around the country, and we were still filling the bench with kids, playing players out of position and doing what we had to do.

"It's not as easy as I am suggesting, but if this keeps going, what do they do? Do we keep calling games off, or say now is the time to look at it?

"The challenge to what I say, obviously, we don't carry the squad like at least half of the clubs in the Premier League, if not two thirds.

"Therefore it will be tricky for us. Some of the super-power clubs have 48 pros, and maybe 30 of them are internationals.

"We haven’t got that, so of course they are going to be stronger generally. So how do you define it?

"We don’t want to dilute or lose the competitive edge of the league completely.

"But we’re all at risk and could get it at any time. We are all trying to do the right things, but we will all still go out with our family and mates and you don't know where you contract it from - from a petrol station or a restaurant.

"We just want to bring the margins into a our favour by doing the right things. But that one day you do something outside the norm, you could still get it.

"It's not easy for the Premier League, the players or the fans."