Uefa is investigating game postponements and the outcome will tell us a lot

By Tony Attwood

Suddenly, because of problems for Tottenham, there is talk about football in general having to “come up with more plans for the fixture list. The Premier League has so far successfully evaded any major schedule disruptions since Project Restart, but what happened with Tottenham Hotspur does serve a note of warning.

That commentary comes from the Independent – an online newspaper in the UK.   At one go it sets aside the fact that Arsenal were forced to play their opening match against Brentford despite covid infecting the side, but says that Tottenham are ok simply to refuse to play their game because of covid.

However, the Independent has gone a bit off the rails with this one, since it says in its “Reading the Game” email newsletter, it seems that postponement “is likely to be the case for the fixture’s rearrangement. The governing body’s regulations state that group games usually need to be finished by 31 December, but with the French winter break starting on 22 December, that gives little space. The Independent has been told that Uefa will be “flexible” on the situation.”

Told by whom one wonders.   Certainly the English media would push this line because this involves  Tottenham, and for whatever reason, some of the media quite like Tottenham.

Indeed what The Independent has done is found a way to set out its review of the situation such that it would appear that if allowing Tottenham to break the rules would be in everyone’s interest as they “don’t want the precedent of games going unplayed or teams forfeiting. It is naturally seen as crucial to the integrity of the sport to actually get fixtures played.”

The newsletter continues, “There is going to be a knock-on effect, with the Brighton and Hove Albion match already postponed, and the fixture against Leicester City – who have had their own Covid issues – looking certain to follow. Leicester dropping into the Europa Conference themselves means a play-off game and another bit of time taken out of the calendar. There could be some busy weeks ahead.”

Or perhaps not, for despite all the “let’s work together to help Tottenham” approach of the Independent, a Uefa statement says, “Unfortunately, despite all efforts, a solution that could work for both clubs could not be found.   As a consequence, the match can no longer be played and the matter will, therefore, be referred to the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body for a decision to be taken in accordance with Annex J of the… competition regulations.”

That Annex of Europa Conference League regulations clearly says that as Tottenham Hots were the club unable to fulfil the fixture, they will forfeit the game with Rennes awarded a 3-0 win.  Tottenham H will thus be knocked out.

In one way that shouldn’t worry them much – the Europa Conference is certainly something to be avoided, and while Arsenal sauntered through the Europa League last season winning each and everyone one of their group stage matches, Tottenham have been doing poorly in this lower grade competition.  Here’s the table…

UEFA Europa Conference League – Group G
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Rennes 5 3 2 0 10 7 +3 11
2 Vitesse Arnhem 6 3 1 2 12 9 +3 10
3 Tottenham Hotspur 5 2 1 2 11 8 +3 7
4 NS Mura 6 1 0 5 5 14 -9 3

According to the rule book, what the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has to do is determine if Tottenham had 13 available outfield players and a goalkeeper.  If so, Tottenham have to be removed from the competition, unless Uefa show their colours by changing the rules in Tottenham’s favour.

They might do this if Tottenham are able to get Uefa to ignore the fact that last year Switzerland were given a 3-0 win after Ukraine refused to play a game against Switzerland because of covid.

Ukraine took the outcome to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and they ruled in favour of Uefa and Switzerland.

And of course, if Uefa ruled in Tottenham’s favour Vitesse Arnhem would then go to the Court of Arbitration in Sport and refer to their previous ruling and note how Uefa has changed its own rules in order to benefit Tottenham.  The English media would not report that, of course, in keeping with their standard policy on such matters.

Nor does the media want to look back to August 2020 in which month Linfield went through in their European qualifying rounds when Kosovo didn’t play because of Covid in the Kosovan team.

Antonio Conte has raised the question of why his players are being asked to continue playing games like everyone else has to – which clearly a statement made based on the notion that Tottenham H do have a “special relationship” with the authorities.

Tottenham now have to play Leicester on 16 December and then have a home game against Liverpool on 19 December and the league cup game with West Ham United after that.

But of course, they might well appeal to the Premier League and then get special dispensation.  And if they do, Arsenal might as well simply accept the reality.  Tottenham are not like other clubs.

15 Replies to “Uefa is investigating game postponements and the outcome will tell us a lot”

  1. It is very strange that people who don’t want to engage in a discussion, or who actually don’t quite grasp what the article is all about, think that somehow they are making a point with a little comment after. I mean, what sort of person thinks that replying to an 800 word article with five words actually says anything. Or come to that what sort of person who would have that notion in mind, actually reads a whole 800 word article? Surely most intelligent people actually read the first few lines (or maybe even just the headline) and then abandons the piece for something else?
    So either this commentator Billyspurs, didn’t read the piece seeing that he didn’t agree with it, and made a comment. Or despite disagreeing with it all, carried on and read it to the end. All very weird behaviour. Still, it happens.

  2. Or it could be that after reading it, all it really boils down to is you think Spurs are treated better by the media than Arsenal.

    There was really nothing else in this article that has not been typed or printed hundreds of times already.

    The club had 20 cases and the ground had to be closed down. There is no mention of any worry for anyone with the illness its just really all about you and how hard done by you feel, and how much you feel Spurs should be disciplined.

    It’s generally all just anti-Spurs waffle so I guess I can understand BillySpurs comments.

  3. What a load of crap this article is. Did Arsenal ask to have their match postponed? No they didn’t. Were matches last year postponed when there were active and widespread outbreaks at other clubs? Yes, there were. Fulham vs Spurs was postponed for example at Fulham’s request. There seems to be a particular uproar from clubs that seek to take advantage of this health crisis or don’t like Spurs that disgusts me. Odd that no one is concerned about the health of the players or even the selfish interest fans of clubs like Arsenal might at least have that it spreads further to Spurs’ opponents and eventually Arsenal itself. Arsenal supporters aren’t upset that Spurs are getting some kind of advantage for having a squad full of sick players, they are upset that Spurs might not get screwed because they have a squad of sick players.

  4. Just seen Lewis Hamilton Robbed of the Championship by F1’s equivalent to the 4th official.

    It’s quite appropriate to mention this here as the commentator likened the finish to Micheal Thomas’s last gasp winner at Anfield, but this was nothing like that. We had no intervention from the referee, the linesmen or the 4th official.

    If I can make an analogy this was like Man Utd leading the FA Cup final by 2 goals to nil and the fourth official telling the referee to give their opponents 2 late penalties simply to make a game of it.

    Not only that but then telling Man Utd to play extra time in bare feet.

    Simply a joke.

  5. Seems SKY’s F1 racing team (at least some of them) are as bad as their football mob. It seems according to them, even though they accept the officials changed the rules, it’s okay because it gave us a race.

    Really ?

    Mercedes have lodged 2 complaints against the FIA and guess who judges on this? The FIA !!

    For FA read FIA.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  6. Tony

    Just like the decisions of the FA, FIFA, PGMO etc. I know that some arcane, Byzantine ‘reasoning’ will accompany the decision. Just tired of these self-serving bodies having authority over the sport. Every one of them are corrupt. Let the U.S. FBI have a go at all of them. We remember their FIFA investigation that revealed the corruption to the world. I don’t think too much has changed. I can’t get it out of my head that the FBI investigation revealed FIFA had 3 billion on hand! Not sure if was pounds or dollars, but still a huge sum. I’d like to know the finances of all organisations involved with sport. Local orgs. are supposed to receive the benefit. Certainly in football, the non league clubs and locals are suffering to stay in business. To my mind the governing bodies ensure the money stays in the hands of the few. Including themselves. Sick of it. And yet we support the teams, buy the merchandise, watch the matches and the lucky few attend them. The scheduling insanity hurts the players and fans. Apparently that’s alright as the acronym associations are not affected.

    Spurs haven’t won anything since the analog age. They just don’t matter. Don’t need 5 words to sum up Spurs. Four will do.
    Tottenham, shite. Shite, Tottenham.

  7. goonersince72

    “Spurs haven’t won anything since the analog age.”

    2 League cups in 30 years to be precise.

    We’ve won twice that many in the last 8 years alone with 4 Community Shields thrown in for good measure, and all whilst being a badly run club that cant sell players, cant buy players, and definitely haven’t had a player good enough to play in the Spurs side for love nor money.

    Over the 30 years period we’ve won 14 major trophies, with 9 Community Shields thrown in just for good measure.

    WTF have we got to be obsessed about ?

  8. Dave M I am most sorry that you have been upset by my article, as clearly I have not expressed myself properly. But thank you for reading the piece all the way through, although being disgusted. Not many people would do that.

  9. Dave M

    There’s absolutely no need for anybody to ‘screw’ Spurs as they do a fine job of screwing themselves, year after year.

    As I pointed out, even when you’re good you win nothing. Even when we’re crap we still win things.

    It’s just how it is.

  10. With the UK governement playing so often the ‘personal responsibility’ argument in terms or Covid, and considering the players are at least better paid individuals then your normal store cashiers – alas they are able to avoid contact, take precautions, etc etc, I do find little excuse for Sp*rs about so many players out.

    How come Bayern have their start player Kimmisch out with Covid, yet the whole team is ok ? Do the germans have some special vaccine ?

    My guess is they are better organised, better disciplined, more respectful at the stadium and at home, etc. Arsenal had an issue at the start of the season, yet there were not so many players infected.

    Why in the world would Sp*rs have been victim to a specific variant aimed at destroying their team ? And why did other teams not have that much of a problem as of late ? Bacause somewhere in their protocls, something went wrong, most probably by human error(s).

    To me we are seeing an organisation that looks like did not implement protocols the way they ought to have been and is responsible for the resulting mess. The rest of Europe or England is not at fault.

    And yes, except sarcasm and criticism of incompetence, Arsenal got nil understanding for their problems at the beginning of the season. All they got was the usual calls to round up the usual suspect manager…

    And they’ve got enough youth team players labelled the next whoever by the PRess to be able to field 11 players. Will give them a chance to shine….

  11. @dave if you read this article aftet Arsenal lost it says if a team has 14 players available then the game will not be postponed.


    Then this article says Spurs has 7 players unavailable. 25 players are registered with 7 out gives you 18. The game can still go ahead.


    Nothing happenrd to Spurs when they had 2 home stadiums in a football season which goes against Prem rules highlighed by Untold some time ago and you still think its Arsenal fans being salty?

  12. Billy, Nick and Dave.

    “Or it could be that after reading it, all it really boils down to is you think Spurs are treated better by the media than Arsenal”. Not only by the media but by the Premier League and the FA.

    Well aren’t they?


    “There is no official threshold for the number of positive cases that would cause a game to be called off, but the 2021/22 Premier League handbook states “permission will not be granted to postpone a league match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available”.


    “But the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has revealed that would be against its regulations. “They’d have to play in the same stadium for the entire year,”


    “The Football Association charged both clubs with three breaches of failing to control their players, with Spurs hit with a £225,000 fine – on top of a £25,000 penalty for collecting six bookings in the game – while Chelsea were fined £375,000 having had more previous misdemeanors”

    But no points deduction compared to:


    “The real punishment came post-match as the FA charged both sides with “misconduct and with bringing the game into disrepute.” Each club was fined £50,000 but the big blow was the unprecedented step of a league points deduction. Man United were handed a -1 point penalty, Arsenal suffered a -2 deduction.

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