Allardyce: We've definitely spread swine flu to Chelsea

Blackburn manager makes remarkable claim and rails at League as virus hits his club

Sam Allardyce yesterday made the remarkable claim that his Blackburn Rovers team had passed on a contagious strain of swine flu to Chelsea after the Premier League refused to give dispensation to clubs to postpone fixtures if their players had become infected with the illness.

Allardyce, who has lost Christopher Samba, David Dunn and another unnamed player to swine flu along with at least two members of staff, including the club doctor, said that Blackburn had been warned by the Premier League that they should not attempt to get games called off despite the outbreak. As a result he said that they went ahead and played the game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and now, according to Allardyce, have passed the infection on to their opponents.

Asked whether this would have meant that there are now Chelsea players with the infection, Allardyce said: "There is no doubt about that. When you look at the medical side of it, it is one of the most infectious viruses we have had. You don't know where it has come from but they are not going to stop it, are they?"

The Premier League rules dictate that clubs must do everything they can to fulfil their fixture commitments and only in the most pressing circumstances can clubs seek dispensation for games to be postponed. Allardyce argued that it was not the number of players missing that justified the game being called off but rather the severity of swine flu and the threat it poses.

The Blackburn manager said that clubs had been made aware last year that they should not use swine flu as an excuse to call games off and therefore Blackburn had not applied for Saturday's game to be postponed because they believed any attempt to do so would be doomed to failure.

He said: "I would not have gone to the extent I have but reading in the paper the Premier League said we made no request to get the game called off. That's just sitting on the fence – normal splinters up the backside as usual. They know that we went through the right procedures and that we did not call it off because we couldn't. There was no point in trying because back in February or March they told us we had to get a team out there no matter what.

"It is their responsibility to consider how dangerous it might be to allow this to spread throughout football so they have shirked responsibility – not us. I don't think they have put much thought into it at all."

Chelsea said yesterday that they have not discovered any cases of swine flu among their players or staff and are not concerned by the situation. Chelsea were contacted by Blackburn as a matter of courtesy before the game. Chelsea face Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup fourth round at home tomorrow night while Allardyce's side play Peterborough United in the same competition tonight.

The Premier League has always been militantly against clubs postponing games and has demanded answers from the likes of Portsmouth, Blackburn and Bolton who have had to postpone games in January in recent years because of frozen pitches. It is a stipulation of the Premier League that all clubs have undersoil heating in order to allow them to fulfil fixtures.

A Premier League spokesman said: "As ever, when it comes to health matters the Premier League will be guided by the relevant statutory authorities. If a club postpones any of their matches they would have to prove that they were unable to fulfil their fixture. The Premier League does not anticipate, at this stage, any circumstances under which a match could be justifiably postponed."

A similar situation in France saw Paris St-Germain's visit to Marseilles called off at the final minute on Sunday. Several PSG players had been diagnosed with swine flu and the rest of the Ligue 1 team were quarantined, but the French League waited until lunchtime to call the evening game off.

Clubs criticised the French League yesterday after 20 people were injured and 18 arrested in clashes between police and fans following the postponement of the game. Local authorities were unhappy that French Professional League (LFP) president Frédéric Thiriez had waited until 2,000 PSG supporters were already on the streets of Marseilles.

"The decision to postpone the game was taken thoughtlessly and too late," the Marseilles chairman, Jean-Claude Dassier, said. The coach, Didier Deschamps, added that the postponement of the game "was difficult to understand". The PSG chairman, Robin Leproux, criticised the LFP for having "hastily decided on Saturday that the game should be played".

Medical View: Why Allardyce's fears are unfounded

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

Sam Allardyce's caution over swine flu is overdone. Flu is highly infectious and easily transmitted, and is spreading through Blackburn's squad in the same way it has gone through schools and families around the country. But out on the pitch, where the contact between players is fleeting, the chances of passing on infection are low. The players might consider avoiding shaking hands because they are a key route of transmission for viruses.

Perhaps opposing teams should make liberal use of alcohol gel and hand wipes. But if a player genuinely has swine flu, he is likely to be too knackered to play, and shouldn't be exercising anyway.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power