Premier League Arsenal have recorded “a small number” of positive Covid-19 tests which have forced them to cancel a US tour, just days after they faced Rangers.
The Ibrox club welcomed the Gunners to Glasgow as part of the Gers’ 150th-anniversary celebrations and played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.
But now the rest of their pre-season plans have been thrown into disarray after a spate of positive Covid-19 tests have forced them to call off a trip Stateside.
“Following a small number of positive COVID tests among the planned party to travel to America tomorrow, we have sadly been forced to withdraw from the Florida Cup,” reads an Arsenal statement.
“This difficult decision is based on ensuring the health and wellbeing of our players and staff.”
The Gunners have also confirmed that at present everyone who has tested positive is asymptomatic.
This is of obvious interest to Rangers having met the Arsenal travelling party only three days before this announcement was made.
As things stand there is no official suggestion that this has affected the Gers but if anything it hammers home the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic and things opening up this season.
Whilst in lockdown it would’ve certainly been easier for players and their families to avoid contact with positive cases but with the country abandoning strict protocols amid the vaccine roll-out, players are likely to come into greater contact with the virus.
This has already been evident in the Premier Sports Cup, where Covid-19 outbreaks have forced several Scottish clubs into isolation, with Kilmarnock and Ross County being forced to forfeit cup games as a result.
This has led to SFA chairman Ian Maxwell calling for a change to the self-isolation rules for footballers ahead of the domestic season.
“I know that the close contact criteria is under review and the Scottish Government is looking at that,” Maxwell told STV.
“That’s the driver because any positive case means individuals are required to isolate. That’s consistent across society and not specific to football.
“So we’re in dialogue with Scottish Government. There are measures which we can implement which could maybe mitigate those factors and allow players to return to training and matches, even if they are self-isolating away from football.
“We’re hopeful we can achieve something in that area but it’s a process to go through.
“It’s with government now. We’ve submitted a proposal to them and it’ll go through the process.
“It’s fair to say that everybody wants to get back to normal sooner rather than later, not even withstanding testing but in terms of the other restrictions which we’re living with for a bit of time yet.”
Arsenal were set to take part in the Florida Cup alongside Premier League rivals Everton, Serie A champions Internazionale and the Colombian club Millonarios.
Rangers fans will remember the tournament from an Ibrox trip to Florida in 2018 where they faced off against Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians, beating them 1-0 and 4-2 respectively.
However, whilst the world opening up has its issues with the virus spreading, there are also positives regarding the return of supporters.