A SECOND Rotherham United player has tested positive for coronavirus but that doesn’t mean the club will be forced to scrap their festive fixtures.
A decision on whether the Boxing Day clash at Middlesbrough and next Tuesday’s home derby with Barnsley will go ahead will be taken after more rounds of Covid-19 tests on the Millers’ playing squad and staff.
All the players were tested on Saturday and the results showed that another of them has contracted the disease.
Tests were being carried out again today (Tuesday). If they come back negative, the Boro and Reds games could still go ahead.
However, more positive outcomes could see those fixtures called off. An announcement is expected tomorrow.
The player who had coronavirus last week — leading to the postponement of last Saturday’s match with Derby County when some of his teammates also reported symptoms — would be available for the Middlesbrough contest, having completed his mandatory period of quarantine.
The latest player to be hit would miss out.
On Monday, no-one except the affected two were showing signs of illness and the squad were due to resume training today after self-isolating as a precaution.
Elite sports people are governed by a different set of coronavirus rules and aren't obliged to go through a period of quarantine if a teammate returns a positive test.
Meanwhile, chairman Tony Stewart has brushed off suggestions that Rotherham were looking for a reason to postpone the Derby encounter because they were hit by injuries and the Rams were in a good run of form.
The announcement came late, 85 minutes before the scheduled 3pm kick-off, and the Derby team bus was already close to AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers had contacted the EFL late morning/early afternoon to request that the match be called off and approval from the governing body was eventually granted.
One of the players already had coronavirus and had been ruled out, then two more phoned in on Saturday to say they were ill.
“If we had wanted to ‘sham’ it we would have been talking to the EFL at ten o’clock in the morning,” Stewart said.
“We wouldn’t have allowed Derby to think about setting off and creating a ‘shambles’ of it.”
Rotherham have been in contact with Boro and Barnsley throughout this week to keep them informed of developments.
CHAIRMAN Tony Stewart is certain Rotherham United will escape censure for the late coronavirus postponement of last weekend’s Derby County clash, describing an EFL probe as nothing more than ‘a formality’.
The Millers owner says the club complied with all protocols before the Championship contest at AESSEAL New York Stadium was called off.
A Millers player had tested positive for Covid-19 in the build-up to the match before two others said they were experiencing symptoms late on the morning of the game.
Rotherham requested that the fixture be postponed and the EFL gave their approval after discussions between them and the Millers.
“I’m totally confident we did everything correctly,” Stewart said. “If there is any suspicion that Covid is in the vicinity and affecting the players, the protocol is that you have to make a call to the two doctors at the EFL.
“We followed all the procedures outlined by the doctors. We got back in touch with them and they said we would have to postpone the game.”
It has now been confirmed that one of the players who was ill does have coronavirus.
The governing body say they will investigate the circumstances leading up to the ‘game off’ announcement which came less than an hour and a half before kick-off.
“The EFL have to follow it up with an investigation but it’s just a formality,” Stewart said.
“They follow up on any issue because certain people might try to get away with something. We are not that club.
“(Manager) Paul Warne told me the team at 10.30am. At 11, he said we had two players who’d just phoned in with symptoms.
“All the procedures have been properly followed. The first people to know of the incident were the EFL. They said we had to talk to the doctors, which we did do.
“We carried out the investigation advised by the two EFL doctors. The protocol was carried out fully to the wishes of the EFL.”
The match was the first Championship game to fall victim to the pandemic this season, although Millwall have since postponed their next two fixtures.