The Premier League have announced that they are scrapping the traditional pre-match handshakes between players and officials until further notice to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
They have become the latest competition to make safety changes because of the virus. All games in Serie A have notably been ordered to be played behind closed doors until April 3.
Atalanta’s Champions League round of 16 second leg away at Valencia will also be played behind closed doors.
And now the Premier League are beginning to take precautions, announcing their new measures soon after news broke on Thursday of the first casualty in the UK following a positive test for coronavirus.
In a statement, the Premier League said: “Coronavirus is spread via droplets from the nose and mouth and can be transmitted on to the hands and passed on via a handshake.
“Clubs and match officials will still perform the rest of the traditional walk-out protocol ahead of each fixture.
“On entering the field of play, the two teams will continue to line up, accompanied by the Premier League music, then players from the home team will walk past their opposition without shaking their hands.”
Meanwhile, Everton’s chief financial officer, Sasha Ryazantsev, has said that it is likely that the Premier League will force games to be played behind closed doors in the near future.
“It would be a forced decision rather than one we would proactively engage in,” he said, as reported by The Guardian. “But the whole situation goes far beyond the world of sport. Nobody wants to play behind closed doors and I don’t think it’s inevitable that it will happen. But we feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks.”
The Premier League also wrote to all 20 member clubs this week outlining other necessary provisions and protocols in order to prevent matches being postponed and causing congestion in the fixture schedule.