Covid-19: Row after Birmingham football team player tests positive

Image source, Bartley Reds
Image caption,
Martin Asante (far right) said the fine would have to be paid out of the club's reserves if they did not play

A non-league football team said they were angry at facing a £400 fine for not playing their next match despite a player testing positive for Covid-19.

The Bartley Reds player got a positive result 72 hours after his Midland Football League match on Saturday.

The Birmingham-based club alerted officials but were told FA guidelines stated football was not a close contact sport so only the player must isolate.

Seven of his team mates have since been tested and await their results.

Martin Asante, manager of the team, which plays in the league's division four/reserve, is awaiting his own test result. He told BBC News he was shocked at being told he must field a team for next Saturday's match or face the fine.

"Why can't we do the best we can to protect others and their families?" Mr Asante, who also has a heart condition, asked.

"What is two weeks [to spend isolating] really in the scope of things?

"We would have prevented damage rather than caused damage."

Image source, Bartley Reds
Image caption,
The team play at West Midlands Police's Tally Ho site

The club uses facilities at Tally Ho in Pershore Road, Birmingham, a West Midlands Police site, and some team members, including the player who tested positive, had a drink in the social club afterwards, Mr Asante said.

"The police are front-line workers so if they would have visited the bar at any point, we had to inform them as well.

"We want to do the right thing but we don't understand the logic behind the league threatening us with a fine."

Nigel Wood, Midland Football League Secretary, confirmed he had been informed by the club about the positive case and that members had been told to play.

"We are following FA guidelines and they state that football is not classed as a close contact sport and only the player has to self-isolate if they test positive," he said.

"That's at all levels of football and as a far as we are concerned, at the moment, the player who tests positive must do that and all others don't have to unless they were in close contact with them.

"All clubs have been told what they must do before during and after and we take it as read from what they tell us, that they are following the rules."

On Tuesday Leyton Orient's Carabao Cup third round match against Tottenham was postponed after several members of the League Two's team tested positive following their match at the weekend.

But West Ham's game against Hull City in the same competition went ahead despite manager David Moyes and two players returning positive tests.

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