The much-anticipated west London derby between Fulham and Brentford has been postponed after the English Football League (EFL) announced all games will be suspended until at least April 3.
The promotion contenders were set to clash at Craven Cottage tonight as third place Fulham looked to keep the pressure on the top two, whilst Brentford looked to get within a point of their rivals with a win.
The stage was set for one of the most important derbies in the club’s histories, but with the COVID-19 virus starting to paralyse the world of sport, not to mention the game falling on Friday 13, the news may not be unexpected.
In a statement the EFL said: “This action, which will be kept under constant review, has been taken due to the increasing numbers of Clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the COVID-19 virus.
“Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the Government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis.”
The postponements include all matches in the Championship, League One, League Two, as well as academy and youth team fixtures.
Clubs are being advised to suspend all non-essential activities including player appearances, fan meetings and training ground visits.
Fans have taken to Twitter to voice their feelings about the situation. While many are disappointed at the news, the consensus seems to be one of understanding.
@Fulham_Focus said: “It’s 100% the right thing to do and any other decision would have been irresponsible and putting people’s health at risk for the sake of a football match.”
@bees4ever7 said: “Gutted, but inevitable. Still at least @PJansson5 will be fit by then, every cloud.”
@Paul_Tic_Nelson said: “I had booked to fly over for the Fulham match from Northern Ireland with Flybe, when Flybe went under I rebooked really expensive tickets with EasyJet, all non-refundable including overnight hotel. I understand but I’m gutted.”
Both Fulham and Brentford will look to refocus their campaigns over this period as both sides have seen a drop-in form in recent weeks.
The race for promotion and the battle for bragging rights will have to be put on hold for now, but as both sides contest for football’s ultimate prize the fight to see who is the best in the West continues.
A further update on these plans will be given after an EFL Board Meeting next week.