QPR boss predicts mandatory vaccinations for players

QPR boss Mark Warburton believes it is only a matter of time before Covid-19 vaccinations become mandatory for all players.

Rangers were due play Sheffield United on Monday night but an outbreak amongst squad and staff members led to the match being postponed.

And Saturday’s clash with Swansea is almost certain to be off too, with as many as 10 players currently isolating.

It is the first time QPR have been forced to cancel a fixture due to an outbreak in their camp, with the club successfully managing to limit outbreaks all last season during lockdown.

However, with the new Omicron variant spreading rapidly across the country and social gatherings still taking place ahead of the Christmas period, players from a number of clubs have become infected.

Warburton acknowledged there is still a reticence from many in football circles to be vaccinated but said he can see both the Premier League and the EFL taking a stronger stance against players who are not jabbed if there continues to be more matches called off.

“The subject in life now will be the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated,” Warburton said.

“That will be the big situation. Football of course has people in both camps.

“But I think now you will see even more stringent aspects apply to the unvaccinated staff members and players and how they travel will be put down by the authorities.

“We have to take care of every single aspect going forward.”

There are some members of the Rangers squad who have not been vaccinated – something Warburton admits he finds hard to understand.

“It’s like any other walk of life. They are adults and have opinions and being competitive animals many have very strong views,” he said.

“Do I understand many of them? No, if I am being honest.

“I don’t understand the reticence and hesitation in this area. But that is opinion, democracy and having your own thoughts.

“But I do think we are getting nearer the time when the word mandatory will be used more and more.

“I don’t know when that will be, but we are nearing that point where certain things become mandatory and that will make things very interesting, that’s for sure.”

Warburton was himself forced to isolate during the October international break and admits with London fully open it is difficult for clubs to keep their players virus-free despite the strict protocols still in place around the training ground.

Tottenham, Brentford and Chelsea are among teams in the capital who have lost players for matches because of Covid – and Warburton admits there is little that can be done to prevent infections outside of club premises.

“This is the hardest thing for me, with my non-medical head, as you can only do what you can do,” he said.

“You can cancel certain parties but there is no regulation to stop players going out.

“They are human beings. You go out in London and it it’s absolutely heaving.

“That is part and parcel of it and it is very hard to offer consistent protocols.

“As a club you do one or two things above and beyond, and we do as much as we can.”