Friday’s Premier League fixture between Aston Villa and Newcastle has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Magpies’ squad.
Newcastle asked the Premier League to cancel the game on public health grounds with the squad hit by more than five positive tests, and uncertain how many more could develop.
They closed the training ground on Monday after a number of positive cases emerged over the weekend.
Newcastle officials held talks with Villa and Premier League counterparts on Tuesday and the situation has now led to Newcastle’s game at Villa Park, scheduled for Friday night, being called off.
A Toon statement confirmed that it would be the first fixture this season – and indeed since Project Restart – to be shelved due to coronavirus.
The statement read: “Newcastle United’s fixture at Aston Villa on Friday has been postponed following a significant increase in Covid-19 cases at the Magpies’ Training Centre.
“A new date and time for the game will be confirmed in due course.”
Aston Villa said: “Aston Villa can confirm that the club fully supports the Premier League’s decision to postpone our fixture with Newcastle United on Friday following a significant Covid outbreak at the Tyneside club and the shutdown of their training ground by Public Health England.
“We would like to thank both the Premier League Board and Newcastle United for their comprehensive and transparent communication during the process which resulted in this decision being reached.
“Everybody at Aston Villa wishes a speedy recovery to all those at Newcastle United affected by the virus.”
A Premier League statement added further details.
It read: “Following a Premier League Board meeting today, Newcastle United’s fixture at Aston Villa, due to be played at 20:00 GMT, Friday 4 December, has been postponed.
“Newcastle lodged a request with the Premier League to rearrange the game following a significant increase in COVID-19 cases at the club, which resulted in Public Health England North East (PHE) advising that their training facilities remain closed.
“The Premier League Board agreed, as a consequence, that the club are unable to train and adequately and safely prepare for their match on Friday.
“The decision has been taken in consultation with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and following extensive consultation with PHE and Premier League medical advisors, with the health of players and staff the priority.
“Newcastle correctly notified PHE regarding a number of positive COVID-19 test results, which is standard practice under Government and Premier League guidelines.
“PHE convened a meeting with Newcastle and the Premier League yesterday to assess the situation and advised the club’s training ground should remain closed and no group training would be permitted between players until Friday at the earliest.
“All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and another meeting between the club, PHE and the Premier League will take place to assess the test results.
“The Premier League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Aston Villa in due course.”