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All 72 English Football League (EFL) clubs will undergo twice-weekly coronavirus testing from January 11.

The EFL, unlike the Premier League, had not previously been testing its players regularly and instead was relying on them reporting symptoms and on contract tracing.

The re-introduction of a league-wide testing programme follows one round of mandatory testing, which commenced on January 4.

More than 50 games have been called off in the EFL since December due to coronavirus circumstances.

A twice-weekly testing programme is understood to cost £10,000 a week per club and is being funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).

The Premier League has been testing its players and club staff twice a week since December 28 and recorded a season-high 40 positive cases in the latest week’s results.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney and the entire Derby County first-team squad are isolating following a coronavirus outbreak at the club

In a statement, the EFL’s chief executive Trevor Birch said: “We have repeatedly maintained that adhering to the stringent protocols implemented during the re-start last summer and then across all clubs since the beginning of the season was going to be our best chance of beating the virus and to keep playing matches.

“Only last week we took the decision to enhance these to further minimise risk, though with the new strain of the virus taking hold across parts of the country, it is now clear from our discussions with our medical advisors and public health officials that additional testing, operated in conjunction with strict protocols, may prove beneficial in the immediate short-term.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the PFA for their support in helping us to finalise a position on testing across all three divisions on a twice-weekly basis.

“We will continue to review the situation and make any adjustments or changes as circumstances dictate with the health and well-being of our players and club staff the overwhelming priority.”

Gordon Taylor, PFA chief executive, added: “In the light of the current increase in COVID-19 cases and the resulting further tightening of government regulations, the PFA and the EFL have agreed enhanced measures to help protect players, staff and their families.

“Football has provided temporary relief for many fans during the lockdown. PFA members, alongside millions of people, have worked hard and played a positive role throughout the pandemic.

“We believe that this comprehensive and expansive approach to testing will help support clubs and be an important factor in maintaining fixtures and ensuring that football can continue during this challenging period.”

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