The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. The news was confirmed in an EFL statement.
It follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.
In a joint statement, the Premier League, FA, WSL and EFL said: “Following a meeting of Shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time.”
They added: “Despite the challenges, it is the Premier League’s aim to reschedule the displaced fixtures, including those played by Academy sides, when it is safe to do so.
“In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate.”
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters wished Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi well after both tested positive for the virus.
“Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19,” he said.
“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”
UK government advice on mass gatherings in England and Wales has not changed despite the decision on Thursday to move into the ‘delay’ phase in tackling the virus, but the spread of the illness among competitors has forced the hand of organisers.
The Guinness Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday is still due to go ahead as things stand.
UEFA has announced all Champions League and Europa League matches scheduled for next week have been postponed.
A UEFA statement read: “In the light of developments due to the spread of Covid-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competition matches scheduled next week are postponed.
“This includes the remaining UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all UEFA Youth League quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.
“Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.
“As a consequence of the postponements, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed.
Scottish football has also announced an immediate suspension, with all games – including Sunday’s Old Firm derby – postponed until “further notice”.
Rangers were due to stage Celtic but the Ibrox clash has now been shelved.
In a statement, the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League’s joint response group said it had been decided to suspend “all domestic professional and grassroots football under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA until further notice”.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “As everyone knows, this is a fast-moving and unprecedented situation for the entire country. We have been in intensive and detailed discussions since last night and have also been taking on board the experience of our counterparts in England and across Europe.
“As a result, the board of the SPFL has agreed this morning that all league fixtures this weekend and next midweek will be postponed until further notice.
“The health and safety of fans, players and officials is absolutely paramount. We have not yet had any confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst players in Scotland, but, given the nature of this outbreak, it seems only a matter of time.
“We realise that many people will be bitterly disappointed, and we would obviously prefer to be in a position where we can continue as normal, but that’s neither realistic nor possible.