Tottenham-Brighton postponed by Premier League as COVID crisis worsens; UEFA confirms Rennes clash off

Tottenham Hotspur's clash on Sunday with Brighton & Hove Albion has been postponed by the Premier League, it was announced on Thursday, following a severe coronavirus outbreak among Antonio Conte's squad, hours after the club's Europa Conference League tie against Stade Rennais was also called off.

The decision follows an emotional prematch news conference from Spurs manager, Conte, in which he confirmed eight players and five staff members had contracted COVID-19. Sources have told ESPN that the situation has worsened since then, with more positive tests on Thursday.

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Spurs said in a statement: "The Premier League Board took the decision to postpone the game following guidance from medical advisers, with the health of players and staff the priority. The fixture will be rescheduled in due course.

"The club requested the match to be rearranged following a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases among players and relevant staff."

The Premier League also said they have written to all 20 clubs recommending that they revert back to the emergency measures they deployed last year in the height of the pandemic. The measures include wearing masks around the club, limiting treatments to 15 minutes and social distancing indoors.

UEFA called off Spurs' match against Rennes less than 12 hours before kick-off, and a key reason for the late postponement was that the governing body became satisfied that the north London club were unable to name 13 senior players, the minimum requirement to fulfil a European fixture.

The French club were furious when Spurs released a statement on Wednesday suggesting the match would be postponed as Rennes claimed to have received assurances earlier in the day that the fixture would be fulfilled as normal and travelled to London accordingly.

At that point, discussions had been held between Rennes, Spurs and UEFA with European football's governing body insisting as late as first thing on Thursday morning that the match would still go ahead.

However, at just after 9.30 a.m. GMT (4:30 a.m. ET) on Thursday, UEFA confirmed to ESPN in a brief statement that the match was off and further details would be released on what was to come next.

Within hours, the club closed its Spurs Lodge training ground and applied for formal postponement of Sunday's Premier League fixture against Brighton, which was later granted.

"As with our other affected fixture, against Stade Rennais in the Europa Conference League, we shall update supporters with more information as soon as it is available," Spurs added.

"We should like to apologise to everyone at Stade Rennais and Brighton & Hove Albion and to both their supporters and ours for any inconvenience caused."

Talks are now ongoing about rescheduling the European tie, but Spurs are facing a mounting fixture pile-up after last month's Premier League game against Burnley was postponed due to heavy snow.

The game against Rennes must be completed before Dec. 31 but Spurs already have six games to play this month including an EFL Cup quarterfinal three days before Christmas.

It is also a significant match in Group G with qualification on the line for Spurs, who are behind second-place Vitesse by three points with the postponed game in hand. Spurs must therefore beat Rennes and maintain a better goal difference over Vitesse to advance, which would set up a last-32 play-off against a team dropping down from the Europa League.