Premier League games from next season can only be rescheduled if the impact of player unavailability on a club’s squad is “truly exceptional”, the league said on Wednesday following a raft of postponements during the last campaign.

Twenty-two matches were postponed last season due to COVID-19 outbreaks and the subsequent unavailability of players, with the league being criticised by clubs for their handling of the crisis.

Under the new guidelines, requests will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis but only be granted if the concerned club has taken all measures to avoid a postponement.

“This will replace the previous COVID-19 match postponement guidance, providing a standard process for applications,” the league said in a statement.

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“Approval will only be granted where the impact of player unavailability on a club’s squad is truly exceptional and where the club concerned has taken all reasonable steps to avoid the necessity to make the application.”

Earlier, sides could apply for a fixture postponement only if they had a minimum of four positive COVID-19 cases in their squad.

The new season kicks off on August 6.

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