The league, which represents 72 clubs of England’s lower divisions, recorded no COVID-19 cases of players and club staff for the first time since lockdown began last year.
For the first time in a year, English football fans can be optimistic about returning to the stands sooner rather than later. From March 15 to 21, the English Football League reported that there have been no positive tests of COVID-19.
A new record
Across 72 clubs, 5524 players and club staff were tested twice last week. The EFL has recently introduced stricter protocols related to the coronavirus, including having twice-weekly testing, limiting access to indoor areas, and changing travel guidelines.
The number of cases spiked toward the beginning of the year when the league announced 123 positive cases in one week. Since then, numbers have gradually decreased.
The week prior to last saw a report of 25 cases, all from Rotherham United. The community itself at the time was dealing with an outbreak with the borough having the third highest infection rate in England.
In a statement about the zero positive cases, EFL Chief Executive Trevor Birch said:
For 12 months we, like the rest of the society, have been dictated to by this virus. However, the stringent protocols implemented across the board have ensured that we are now able to turn our attention to returning to a certain level of normality. Our focus must be on maintaining this low transmission rate and then ensure supporters can return in full as quickly as is safe to do so.
How the Premier League is faring
The English Premier League, despite representing just 20 clubs, has yet to record a week of no positive cases. For the same period last week, the EPL announced two new positive cases.
The number is statistically very low as 2772 players and club staff were tested in total. The players or club staff will have to self-isolate for 10 days.
Since a high of 36 cases from January 4 to 10, the EPL has seen a steady decline. There have been just two positive cases reported for the past six weeks each.