Steve Evans slammed the EFL for failing to provide coronavirus tests for Fleetwood players and believes Gillingham’s 2-0 defeat against Joey Barton’s side should have never gone ahead.
Second-half goals from Paddy Madden and Ched Evans condemned the Gills to a third consecutive defeat and saw the visitors bounce back from their midweek defeat at Accrington Stanley.
But that game was followed by the news that eight Accrington players had tested positive for coronavirus, prompting fears that the outbreak may have infected members of Barton’s squad.
The Gillingham boss blasted the EFL – and Fleetwood – for failing to get their players tested and called on board members to resign if any of Town’s players receive positive outcomes in the next few days.
“We’ve had the Accrington situation on Tuesday. The league could have done something about it. What did they do? Absolutely nothing,” the 57-year-old fumed.
“If any Fleetwood players test positive in the next three or four days people on the Football League board should resign immediately. Immediately.
“I know what I’d have done if I was the chief executive of the league: I’d have phoned (Fleetwood chairman) Andy Pilley on Thursday morning. I’d have said make sure they’re all tested please.
“I think Fleetwood and Joey have a responsibility (to get their players tested). We don’t get tested any more. We’ve not been tested, other than individual players when they’ve got symptoms, since the Thursday before the start of the season. That’s neglect of duty from the Football League.
“I hope I’m not coughing and spluttering on Monday because I’m the person in the ground with the biggest problem – nearly 60 and overweight. One of the reasons (for the lack of testing) was that none of Fleetwood’s players were showing symptoms this morning. Do they know what Covid is?
“These people hide behind being on the board at the EFL. That means you should act responsibly on behalf of all the clubs.”
Tempers flared on the touchline at Priestfield as second-half strikes from Madden and Evans propelled Town to their first league away win of the season.
Barton defended his team’s decision to not get players tested and says Evans’ pre-match proposals provided the perfect team talk for his fired-up players.
“The nonsense had begun even before the game – they were trying to get it called off this morning,” the 38-year-old said.
“When I heard that I thought ‘great, you’ve just done my team talk for me’.
“We’ve got to comply with Covid protocols but we do so in as respectful a manner as we can with the opposition. Our protocols have been excellent.
“We’ve done everything we can to protect the wellbeing of everybody. Yes, we haven’t been tested, but we follow every single procedure.”