Tottenham Hotspur advanced to the fourth round of the English Football League Cup Friday without even kicking a ball.
The EFL announced in a statement that Tottenham’s postponed contest against lower-league Leyton Orient, which was called off hours before kickoff on Tuesday because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the fourth-tier club’s squad, would not be rescheduled.
As such, Spurs received a bye into the last 16 of the competition, where they’ll meet Premier League rival Chelsea on Sept. 29.
Leyton Orient didn’t disclose how many of its players had contracted the novel coronavirus, but it was enough that the O’s determined they would not be able to field a team. One report suggested as many as 18 players had been infected.
“In accordance with Carabao Cup Rules, Tottenham Hotspur have been awarded with a bye to progress to round four,” the statement read. “The EFL Board has determined that in line with Carabao Cup Rule 5.1, the Club was unable to fulfill its obligations to complete the fixture...and shall therefore forfeit the tie.”
The contest was to be hosted by Leyton Orient at its 9,300-seat stadium in East London. The League Cup is considered the third-most prestigious domestic competition in the English game, after the Premier League and FA Cup.
Rescheduling the match would’ve been nearly impossible anyway, given the avalanche of matches teams are trying to jam in after the start of the season was delayed nearly a month as part of the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic.
Spurs faces Newcastle United Sunday in the Premier League, then meets Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League on Thursday.
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