Over the past month, the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid in England has led to the postponement of numerous football matches. Liverpool saw their boxing day fixture against Leeds postponed at Leeds’ request, while Arsenal saw a game against Wolves put on hold.
Over December and into January, dozens of games have been postponed up and down the pyramid, including multiple Premier League fixtures for Leicester City and Burnley. When Liverpool took a slew of positive tests returned by an independent lab to the EFL and asked for a postponement to their League Cup semi-final first round against Arsenal, though, there was outrage.
Rival fans on Twitter, including those of clubs who had previously had their games postponed, called for the club to be forced to forfeit or to play their U16s—the top age group not impacted by the AXA training centre being closed due to the positive test returns—against Arsenal.
Then, when it turned out a number of the test results had been false positives, some began to demand point deductions in the Premier League. Never mind it being an entirely different competition run by a different governing body than the EFL-overseen League Cup.
Supposedly serious and respected journalists got in on the act, too, seeing a chance at a little rage-fuelled engagement and suggesting there could be investigations on the way and wondering in a just asking questions manner whether Liverpool could have orchestrated the whole thing.
And never mind that if the club was going to use Covid to manipulate the schedule they would have had their game against Chelsea in the league—played without Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Joël Matip, and Jürgen Klopp—postponed rather than waiting to use their powers against Arsenal in the League Cup.
In the end, though, there won’t be any investigation. That’s what outlets from The Evening Standard to The Liverpool Echo are reporting today after checking in with the EFL. That despite attempts to stoke rival fan outrage and stir up controversy and clicks by some in recent days, this is something of a non-story as far as the EFL is concerned.
That in the end, there will be no investigation. That the postponed League Cup semi-final will go ahead as rescheduled, with the first leg this Thursday at Anfield and the return a week later at the Emirates—giving Arsenal a potentially crucial second leg home advantage they didn’t have when the tie was first drawn.
Life and football, then, goes on. With perhaps the biggest takeaway being the apparent confirmation that Liverpool Football Club are absolutely massive and just might be English football’s main character, the protagonist, the only side on the island that really, truly matters.
After all, what else to make of a situation where over the past month nearly every club in England had at least one game postponed—and a number of clubs have requested multiple postponements—and nobody was particularly bothered by it all until it was Liverpool making the request?