'Cancel the season': Fans demand 'safety first' Premier League call

The English Premier League will convene an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss future fixtures, following Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contracting the coronavirus.

Three Leicester City players have also self-isolated from the rest of the playing group after reporting coronavirus-like symptoms.

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On Thursday in England (Friday AEDT), Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi also became the first player in the Premier League to test positive to coronavirus.

Chelsea released a statement confirming the news, which saw them enact a partial closure of their training facilities.

"Chelsea personnel who had recent close contact with the player in the men’s team building will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines," the club statement read.

"These will include initially the full men’s team squad, coaching staff and a number of backroom staff."

Hudson-Odoi, 19, is the first Premier League player to be confirmed to suffer from the virus, which has caused league closures in Spain, Italy and France as it was elevated to a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Premier League games were set to go ahead this weekend as planned but the latest developments around the coronavirus pandemic are making that look increasingly less likely.

"In light of Arsenal's announcement tonight confirming that their first team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning," the Premier League said in a statement.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for coronavirus. Pic: Getty

Earlier Arsenal released a statement revealing Spanish coach Arteta had picked up the virus and, as a result, their entire squad would now be quarantined.

"Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive Covid-19 result this evening," a club statement read.

"Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.

"We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff."

The Gunners were due to travel to Brighton on Saturday and their midweek match with Manchester City was also postponed as some of their players had come into contact with the owner of Olympiacos, who tested positive for the virus.

Cancelling the season would be a cruel blow to runaway league leaders Liverpool. Pic: Getty

Premier League chiefs are under increasing pressure to call off the matches scheduled for this weekend.

Plenty of fans are even going as far as urging officials to call off the rest of the season, insisting the safety of communities should be prioritised above all else.

Cancelling the season would represent a nightmare for the Premier League, with no clear indication what that would look like for all clubs affected.

Many supporters have suggested having no champions, no relegation and simply resetting next season - a scenario that would be a hammer blow for the likes of runaway league leaders Liverpool who are on the cusp of securing their first ever Premier League title.

Other fans have suggested a less drastic approach adopted by leagues and competitions in other countries - playing matches behind closed doors.

Virus threat plunges competition into chaos

Earlier, defending Premier League champions Manchester City confirmed one of their players is in self-isolation after a family member was taken to hospital with symptoms of a respiratory illness.

A City statement said the family member had undergone tests at hospital, including for the coronavirus, and that the player would continue to self isolate until the results were known.

The club did not say which player was self-isolating, but British media reported it was French defender Benjamin Mendy.

City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid set for next Tuesday has been postponed after Real players were ordered into quarantine when a member of the club's basketball team tested positive for coronavirus.

The Premier League earlier issued a statement saying matches would go ahead at the weekend.

"Following the latest update from government issued this afternoon, all Premier League matches will go ahead as scheduled this weekend," the statement said.

"While the prime minister advised that all sporting events should take place as normal for now, he also indicated that government is considering banning major public events, like sporting fixtures.

"We are therefore continuing to work closely with our clubs, government, The FA, EFL and other relevant stakeholders to ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place as and when circumstances change."

With agencies