Paul Warne on Rotherham United potentially facing a fine or points deduction if Barnsley game is postponed

ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne has confirmed that the threat of potential sanctions from the EFL in the form of a heavy fine or even a possible points deduction has stopped the club from asking for the governing body for Tuesday’s derby with Barnsley to be postponed.

Paul Warne.
Paul Warne.

The club - whose scheduled festive games against Derby County and Middlesbrough have already been postponed - have had five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in their playing squad along with a staff member so far. The Millers also have five players on the long-term injured list.

But despite the major issues, with Warne admitting that he will only have three or four players on his bench on Tuesday, Rotherham have elected not to postpone the game for fear of future ‘retribution’ from the EFL.

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Warne said: “We have hit really bad. I don’t want games off, by the way. But in circumstances, I feel a little bit on the hard end of the decision.

“It will be the first game I have been in charge of where I do not know what I am going to get.

“I was advised that if we did not play the game, there would be retribution because I am going against medical advice. The medical advice is that nine days isolation is enough as I have enough players in the football club to get the game on. I do not want it on or to put anyone at risk. But now it is on, there is little I can do but pick the lads up.

“We could have postponed it. But I did not want to happen - which I was led to believe - was come March or April, the Premier League and Championship clubs get hit harder than League One and League Two clubs with Covid postponements and there was a fine because I am going against advice as they are saying the (Barnsley) game is playable.

“There was a fine with a possibility of a points deduction, which I do not want hanging over our heads. Regrettably, we have taken the game on and must try and put out best foot forward against a very good Barnsley side.”

On the health of his available squad, who returned to training on Sunday - minus those players currently self-isolating or are injured, he said: “It is not great. It has been pretty well documented what has happened in the camp. We are fighting it to say the least. It is not great, but we will get the game on."

Timetabling the specific problems suffered by the Millers, he continued: "The day after the Blackburn game (on December 16), one of our players reported ill and did not come to the training ground and got tested and came back positive. No-one else had symptoms, but then we came into game against Derby on the Saturday (19th) and at quarter to 11, two other players reported similar symptoms and got tested.

“We had EFL advice to postpone the game and then everyone else gets tested and everyone at the training ground came down here (to the ground) on the Saturday, andstaff and everyone involved gets tested. It was virtually all negative, apart from one staff member.

“Then we got tested again on Tuesday and we learned that three players were positive and we were lucky we did not play the Derby game as I think we would have infected their team and squad as well.

“Then with EFL advice, we had the game called off against Middlesbrough. Then, we have the ten days of advice (not to train or play). The last time we met was on the Friday (18th) in training and weren’t due back until the Monday (28th), but the EFL asked us to come back in nine days instead of ten to give us two days to prepare.

“We still have a lot missing and yesterday (Sunday) morning as well, we had a player phone up with symptoms as well.

“To add to the woes, the EFL labs are closed and we had to go to the NHS and we are waiting for that result to see if he can take part."