The late postponement of our game against Southend on Saturday was very disappointing for everyone at Cambridge United. For the many fans that bought iFollow passes to watch the game refunds will be paid directly by the EFL. These can be claimed by emailing iFollow@EFL.com, or alternatively match passes already purchased will remain valid for whenever the re-scheduled fixture takes place.
We accept that in the pandemic affected world we live in there will be times when games cannot be played. All clubs do though have a duty to do their best to ensure games are played if at all possible, to maintain the integrity of the competition. The EFL have confirmed, as is normal in such circumstance, that an investigation will take place as to why this game was called off on Friday evening less than 18 hours before we were due to play. In this instance we expect the EFL to conduct their investigation as a matter of urgency. Something clearly went badly wrong for the game to be cancelled so late and there is no point in learning those lessons when we are a long way through the season – they need to be understood now.
In their statement on Friday night Southend said that a “small number” of players had tested positive for Covid19 and that another was self-isolating. The major problem seems to have been that they had a “plethora”, as the Southend United statement described it, of players injured. We of course wish all of their players a speedy recovery. We note that Southend have said they hope to be able to play their game against Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday.
We understand that Academy players could not play because they had not had Covid 19 tests. In a season with so many games being played in quick succession, injuries do mount up. Guidance should come from the investigation as to what, reasonably, clubs should do in this situation. Some of the areas that need to be looked at include at what point should contingency plans be put in place to cope with a lengthening injury list, and whether the time to get test results can be reduced to allow Academy players to play at short notice.
The postponement has been disruptive to our own schedule and will leave us at a competitive disadvantage when the fixture is rearranged in what is a compressed season. It is also likely that we will be playing this match after the January transfer window and we may face a strengthened Southend squad. We call on Southend United to offer their full cooperation with any fast track enquiry for the benefit of all clubs as we have a collective interest in managing our way through this difficult season.