Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, forcing the club to put the entire first team in self-isolation and for its Premier League match against Brighton at the weekend to be postponed.
The Premier League reacted by saying it will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss “future fixtures” - just hours after saying it would be pushing ahead with a full schedule of games and stadiums with fans, unlike most other major European leagues.
Arsenal said the first-team squad, coaching staff and academy members were in quarantine “in line with government health guidelines” after coming in close contact with Arteta, who received a positive test for COVID-19 on Thursday evening.
“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly," Arteta said in an Arsenal statement that came minutes after the Premier League insisted games would be carrying on as usual this weekend. "I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”
Arsenal said the positive test means “it is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates.”
Brighton then announced its match against Arsenal, scheduled for Saturday, had been called off.
“It’s absolutely essential the health and well being of individuals takes priority," Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said. “We apologize to all fans for any inconvenience but trust everyone will understand that we are all facing an unprecedented situation."
Arsenal's game at Manchester City was called off on Wednesday as a precaution because Arsenal players came into contact with a rival team owner who announced Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19. They met Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis after the Greek team won at Arsenal in the Europa League on Feb. 27.
“We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately,” Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi said, "and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”