UEFA have called off Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa Conference League game against Stade Rennais less than 12 hours before kick-off due to a severe COVID-19 outbreak at Spurs’ training ground.
Rennes were furious when Tottenham released a statement on Wednesday night suggesting the match would be postponed as the French club claimed to have received assurances earlier in the day that the fixture would be fulfilled as normal and travelled to London accordingly.
At that point, discussions had been held between Rennes, Spurs and UEFA with European football’s governing body insisting as late as first thing on Thursday morning that the match would still go ahead.
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However, at just after 9.30 a.m. GMT (4:30 a.m. ET) on Thursday, UEFA confirmed to ESPN in a brief statement that the match was off and further details would be released on what was to come next.
The decision follows an emotional prematch news conference from Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte in which he confirmed eight players and five staff members had contracted COVID-19.
Within hours, the club closed its Spurs Lodge training ground and applied for formal postponement of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Brighton.
Sources have told ESPN that the situation worsened with more positive tests later in the day and a key reason for the late postponement is that UEFA are now satisfied that Spurs are unable to name 13 senior players, the minimum requirement to fulfil a European fixture.
Talks are now ongoing about rescheduling the game but Spurs are facing a mounting fixture pile-up after last month’s Premier League game against Burnley was postponed due to heavy snow.
The game against Rennes must be completed before Dec. 31 but Spurs already have six games to play this month including an EFL Cup quarterfinal three days before Christmas.
It is also a significant match in Group G with qualification on the line for Spurs, who need to match Vitesse Arnhem’s result against NS Mura and maintain a better goal difference to secure second place, which would set up a last-32 play-off against a team dropping down from the Europa League.