FA provide coronavirus update as England’s Euro 2020 preparations under threat

The FA have insisted there are no plans yet to call off England's friendly clash with Italy at Wembley at the end of March due to Coronavirus.

But the fixture is now in serious doubt with Italy the centre of Europe's most serious outbreak of Coronavirus.

Italian football is facing a shutdown with the deadly flu-like virus so far causing at least 17 deaths with more than 400 people known to have contracted the symptoms and at least eleven towns in the Northern part of the country in lockdown.

Five league games involving Serie A teams in the north of Italy will be played behind closed doors this weekend including today's clash between Juventus and Inter Milan as well as AC Milan's meeting with Genoa.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino hinted the international programme at the end of March could be called off claiming: “The health of people is much more important.”

Six Nations rugby officials have already postponed Ireland's meeting with Italy in Dublin next Sunday and all of Italy's remaining games – including their final home match against Eddie Jones's side England stars on March 14 – expected to be cancelled.

That's left FA chiefs on high alert with senior figures at Wembley monitoring the situation daily and following official guidelines.

“For now we are watching, waiting and taking the relevant advice from the government” an official said last night.

“The safety of fans, players, officials and everyone connected with football in this country is our paramount concern so we will follow the recommended advice at every stage.”

But the FA say, as it currently stands, the game with Italy will go-ahead unless the situation worsens and government and health agencies issue advice to call off sporting events in the UK.

So far that's not happened – but the Premier League admitted last night that they have contingency plans in place if the Covid-19 outbreak spreads in the UK.

Officials at their Paddington headquarters insist it's “business as usual” and have no plans yet to play Premier League games behind closed doors as in Serie A – but they are ruling nothing out.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “We are not going to talk hypotheticals but clearly we have contingencies in place in case the situation worsens.

“We are in constant dialogue with our clubs, the FA and the Football League but we won't be speaking about what we may or may not do if the spread of Coronavirus escalates.

“For now we are following government and health agency advice and for the moment things are carrying on as normal.

“We are not going to set any hares running but we are completely alive to what is happening.

“At the moment it is business as usual and we are in constant touch with the relevant authorities and are following the advice and guidelines.

“But this is not just a football problem other sports will be affected as well as other entertainment in our major cities and travel, for example, on the Tube in London.”

The Premier League refused to speculate on what might happen in the title race – and with relegation – if a critical escalation of Coronavirus hit the UK and football was shutdown.

Arsenal and Tottenham have been the first two clubs to quiz visitors to their training grounds and media attending press briefings have been asked to fill in forms asking if they have travelled to countries in Asia recently or have any flu-like symptoms.

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