Angus Kinnear reveals Leeds United vaccination status as Premier League rate is confirmed

Angus Kinnear says Leeds United’s players and backroom staff are ‘99 per cent’ fully vaccinated against Covid.

By Joe Urquhart
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 1:30 pm

The Premier League revealed on Monday that 16 per cent of players have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, with the remaining 84 per cent described by the league as being “on the vaccination journey”.

The league later announced that 90 new Covid cases were registered last week, from a record 12,345 tests administered on top-flight clubs’ players and staff amid the Omicron wave.

Six Premier League fixtures were called off last weekend due to Covid outbreaks at individual clubs, though United’s hosting of Arsenal at Elland Road remained as the only Saturday fiture.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

A double vaccination status is critical for teams in order to minimise future postponements, given the difference in isolation rules depending on an affected player’s vaccination status.

Any unvaccinated or single-vaccinated player has to isolate if deemed a close contact of someone confirmed to have Covid and therefore becomes an unavailable player themselves, whereas a double-vaccinated player simply has to keep testing.

Leeds defender Diego Llorente missed out on the 4-1 defeat to the Gunners after testing positive for the virus, which left Marcelo Bielsa with a staggering 10 players out through injury, suspension and Covid.

“At Leeds United, the players’ leadership group decided that vaccinations would be a pillar of their solidarity to team-mates and staff, as well as a civic responsibility,” Kinnear wrote in The Sunday Times.

The Covid vaccination centre at Elland Road. Pic: James Hardisty

“This has resulted in 99 per cent of our playing and backroom team being fully vaccinated, which was the critical difference in yesterday’s [vs Arsenal] match going ahead.

“While everyone I have encountered in the game believes in the sanctity of vaccination being a personal and free choice, it seems inevitable that players who decline a vaccine and are unable to ply their trade effectively, will begin to face broader and more punitive consequences - as are being felt across the rest of society.”

Kinnear later added: “The unity, resilience, and collaboration that supporters, players, clubs and leagues have shown in response to the pandemic is not only the spirit we need to rekindle over the coming months as we keep this season alive, but the ethos that should be the foundation of governing our national game going forward.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters wrote to clubs last week urging them to “strongly encourage” players to get vaccinated while a league meeting decided that fixtures would carry on over the festive period in the face of the growing Covid crisis.

Leeds are currently preparing for a clash against Liverpool at Anfield on Boxing Day before hosting Aston Villa on December 28.

Burnley then visit LS11 in the new year on January 2 for what could be a crucial meeting amid the battle to avoid the top-flight relegation places.