Bristol Rovers’ New Years Day clash with Leyton Orient which was due to take place on New Year’s Day has been called off.
The Gas were due to make the trip to the capital for their League Two clash today but they have been unable to fulfil their fixture.
Their last three matches against Scunthorpe United, Sutton United and Crawley Town have all been cancelled due to positive COVID-19 cases in the Rovers ranks.
In their preparation for the fixture, manager Joey Barton had to don the goalkeeper gloves after no goalkeepers were available as a result of self isolating rules.
Yesterday in his pre-match conference he said that the club had just one defender - Nick Anderton - was available. Both Alfie Kilgour and Connor Taylor are injured whilst other players are out through illness.
The postponement means they’ve gone almost a month without a first-team match with their next scheduled fixture an FA Cup third-round match away at Peterborough United at London Road.
What are the rules on calling a game off?
EFL rules are that a game should go ahead should a team be able to field 14 players, including a goalkeeper, any senior players available and youth players with at least one senior appearance.
After the late call-off of Hull City and Blackburn, which was postponed just two hours before kick-off, the EFL made a slight change to the rules. Testing would not take place on the morning of the game which meant that any positive cases would have to have been reported yesterday.
It makes this postponement slightly more surprising given the change in the rules as multiple sources were of the belief that the game would take place, though ultimately safety is paramount.
What have Bristol Rovers said about the postponement?
Some Rovers fans had already begun their travel preparations for the match when news of the postponement started to break.
“Today’s Sky Bet League Two fixture against Leyton Orient has been postponed. The club has had to take the decision in light of unforseen illnesses in the Rovers first-team squad this morning.
“Despite this extremely disappointing situation, we have continued to work hard within COVID-19 guidelines and only took this measure to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.
It added: “The club has worked hard to ensure that it has been able to fulfil the fixture. However, taking into account the injuries and positive COVID-19 cases with the squad, the club does not have a sufficient number of players available in order to fulfil the fixture.
“We understand that this late postponement will cause disruption and upset to our travelling fans and we can only further apologise for any issues caused. A rearranged date for this fixture will be announced in the near future.”
What have their opponents Leyton Orient said?
They were the first official source to report that today’s game wouldn’t be taking place.
A statement on their website read: “Bristol Rovers informed the EFL that it would be unable to fulfil the fixture at The Breyer Group Stadium due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases in their squad.
“In light of the increased transmission rate of the Omicron variant, the EFL will now review the circumstances surrounding the postponement.
“In addition, it will assist affected Clubs throughout this challenging period to help them mitigate against the risk of infection amongst players and staff, while ensuring their obligations to the EFL regulations are maintained.
A rearranged date for the fixtures will be confirmed in due course. Tickets for this game will remain valid for the rearranged fixture.