MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United abruptly canceled one of its friendly matches ahead of the resumption of the Premier League after the opposing team’s manager tested positive for the coronavirus.
Michael O’Neill, the manager of second-tier Stoke City, had tested negative in five previous rounds of COVID-19 checks before a positive result came from a test administered on Monday.
Stoke had been scheduled to play United in a friendly at the Premier League team’s Carrington training center on Tuesday, the day O’Neill learned of the positive test. The game was immediately called off.
O’Neill was never on site at United’s training center. Players and staff of Stoke had arrived and were located in a separate building to their United counterparts, in accordance with protocol, when news of the positive test came through.
The two squads reportedly had not interacted or come into contact with each other by the time Stoke left.
O’Neill, who recently left his dual role as Northern Ireland manager, could now be absent for Stoke’s first match back after the suspension of the Championship because of the coronavirus outbreak. That will be against Reading on June 20.
According to English Football League regulations, a person who tests positive and has symptoms must self-isolate for a minimum of seven days off-site or until the symptoms resolve. If the person has no symptoms, he or she must exclude from training for 10 days and be under strict surveillance for the following four days. If symptoms develop, the person must then exclude for seven days.
Tests are taking place twice a week at EFL clubs.
Stoke said the team’s assistant manager, Billy McKinlay, will take charge of training ahead of the game against Reading.
The Premier League returns to action with two matches on June 17. United’s first game is away to Tottenham two days later.
There were zero positive results from the Premier League’s COVID-19 testing conducted June 4-5 on 1,195 players and club staff.