‘I’m sincerely sorry’ – Stoney apologises after Man Utd stars fly to Dubai as Everton game postponed due to Covid-19

The Women’s Super League club gave permission for players to fly abroad for a break over the festive period but Stoney has apologised the ‘mistake’

Manchester United head coach Casey Stoney has apologised and taken responsibility after some of her players flew to Dubai over the Christmas period.

Manchester United’s game with Everton became the third WSL game to be called off on Friday, with a United spokesperson stating that the game is off due to positive tests at Everton. However, the Toffees’ manager Willie Kirk told the press on Friday morning that « the last round of [Covid-19] testing was all negative ».

Stoney, however, still admitted that she made a mistake in allowing her players to travel abroad.

“I said before Christmas that I will always take my players’ wellbeing into consideration and I granted permission for my players to go home and see their families to have a break, » Stoney told the press on Friday.

« On reflection, I do trust my players wholeheartedly to stick within government guidelines, everything we allowed them to do was within government guidelines, but I have to be honest and on reflection it was a poor error in judgement from me. I am sincerely sorry for that.

« The buck starts with me and it stops with me so I am sorry for that. Everything was considered as a club in terms of the players’ needs. That’s why it was approved. I’m human and I make mistakes. I made a mistake and I take responsibility for it.”

Pictures of a number of players throughout the Women’s Super League on trips abroad were spotted on social media this week, causing mass controversy, particularly with a number of games since called off due to positive Covid-19 tests.

Manchester City revealed on Monday that four players had contracted the virus, with their game against West Ham this weekend and their Continental Cup quarter-final against Chelsea next week both postponed.

Arsenal’s clash with Aston Villa was also postponed due to a positive Covid-19 test forcing a number of players into self-isolation, as per the government guidelines.

“I can understand frustration of course, especially when we are getting positive tests and games are being called off, » Stoney said.

« Fans can’t get into grounds. Covid-19 has impacted everybody. I can completely understand when people are stuck at home and can’t see families and they see players on holidays – I can understand the frustration in that. I can only say from my point of view and the club’s point of view, we took everything in consideration for their needs.

Casey Stoney Manchester United Women 2020

« Jackie Groenen went back to Holland, Ona Battle went back to Spain and Ivana Fuso went back to Germany. They all came back, quarantined and got tested before coming back into our environment.

« It was the right thing to do by them as people because of where they were at. I can only speak from our club’s point of view. I have to take responsibility for that.

« [The players who went abroad but not to see family] went away for a break, again within government guidelines as we were in Tier 3 at the time. We felt we were making an informed decision, on reflection it wasn’t a good decision and I’ll admit that.

« But I’m not going to single out players and crucify them, at the end of the day it was a club decision and unfortunately it wasn’t the right one. As I said, I am human and I make mistakes. I’ve made an error. I’ll look into it deeply and the impact it’s had on people and the reaction it’s caused, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for that.

« I expect my players to stick within government guidelines and club protocols and I have to tell you our club protocols have been more stringent than government guidelines for a long time, which took a huge toll on our players.

« Anybody that is deemed to be breaking club protocols or govt guidelines I take very seriously and I will deal with internally.

« I wouldn’t want to call a game off. Obviously I’m saying that we’ve potentially made poor decisions over Christmas, had that come back to us, I still wouldn’t have wanted to call the game off because of the integrity of what we’re doing. I want my players to play.

« If I’m the one saying we are prepared to allow people to go [away] and I’m saying it’s a risk that I’m okay to take for their needs, their emotional needs, I’m not going to call a game off, because it is my decision, and why should the rest of my players suffer?

« So for the integrity of the competition, I would never ask for a postponement. It’s not something I would do. »


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