West Ham boss David Moyes suggested the bulging schedule may be a contributory factor in the significant spike in Covid-19 cases circulating among Premier League players and staff.
The traditional festive programme has been a source of frustration for a number of managers in recent years and, barring any late postponements, West Ham will play nine fixtures in all competitions this month.
Moyes’ side are currently coronavirus-free but the Premier League on Monday announced 42 positive tests had been recorded, the highest ever weekly figure registered, with a number of clubs enduring outbreaks of varying size.
“I think the amount of games and the close proximity is not helping football players or staff, whether it be travel or whatever, I really think that’s playing a part of it as well,” Moyes said ahead of his side’s game at Arsenal.
“Players are getting very little time to recover and I think when you are run down you are more liable to get the virus.
“What we’re putting the players through at the moment, the scheduling is making the players much more run down. I think it’s showing with the levels of Premier League players who are catching the virus at the moment.”
Moyes, who will take charge of his 600th Premier League game on Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium, revealed his optimism that some players who are yet to have been vaccinated could get their first dose in the next few days.
“We are getting quite a lot of boosters,” he said. “We have got some players who have not taken their first injection who we think may take it this weekend.
“We’ve got some doctors and nurses coming to help us and hopefully we’ll see a few more people getting closer to vaccinated than not. It’s really important we can try and get as many vaccinated as we can.”
Moyes disclosed he is routinely talking to his players about their responsibilities, with all clubs told by the Premier League to reinstate emergency measures, including the wearing of face masks and observing social distancing.
Premier League players and staff will from now on need to take a lateral flow test every time they want to enter their club’s training ground, but Moyes insisted it would be unfair to instruct his employees to shut themselves off from the rest of the world.
“Players are entitled to have a life as well,” Moyes said. “It doesn’t mean that because you’re a football player, you can’t enjoy going for dinner or a pub if they choose to do so, they have to be allowed to do what the rest of society can do.
“That would turn players off completely if that was the way we were seen because we don’t want to be seen in any different light than any other person.”
While some top-flight fixtures have been postponed because of Covid outbreaks, it is understood there is no official threshold for the number of positive cases that would cause a game to be called off.
Moyes would welcome some clarification on the issue, even if he admitted the decision might not be solely down to the league, and is keeping his fingers crossed there is not another lockdown which could affect whether the season continues or, more likely, whether fans are allowed to attend matches.
“I think it would be better if we had a little bit more understanding of what it meant,” Moyes added. “Maybe we just need to find out if there’s a number or a certain thing which changes.
“It might not be solely down to the Premier League, it might be the advisors who are saying ‘we can’t allow this to happen’.
“I don’t really know the right answer but what I do know is we don’t want to go into a lockdown again, we don’t want games without supporters anymore.”