Stoke City, Port Vale and all other Football League clubs won’t be taking part in the customary pre-match handshakes until further notice, as a precaution against coronavirus.
The EFL made the announcement today. The Premier League has also suspended the handshakes at their games.
The EFL say: “As a result of the ongoing concerns posed by the coronavirus outbreak and following specific medical advice, the Fair Play handshake between players and match officials will not take place at this weekend’s EFL matches and until further notice.
“Whilst the government guidance does remain unchanged, a decision has been taken on medical advice and as a precautionary measure.
“Matchday operations at EFL grounds are set to continue this weekend with clubs being advised to take appropriate prevention measures as per the government guidance.
“It is understood, however, that individual clubs may take decisions at a local level to help mitigate the risk of the virus spreading further ahead of this weekend’s matches.
“The EFL continues to remain in regular dialogue with the government regarding the ongoing developments and is being appraised on a regular basis of developments that could potentially impact our clubs and competitions.
“We will continue to provide EFL clubs with updates and advice as it is issued to ensure that they have all the relevant up-to date information so that they can continue to advise their players, staff and supporters.
“These matters are subject to constant change and we will update as appropriate.”
In local football, Ladsandads had already taken the decision to postpone their post-match handshakes as a precaution against coronavirus.
The teams, in the North Staffs Junior Youth League, which is part of Ladsandads, will instead line up to applaud each other at the end of matches.
Ladsandads teams usually line up at the end of matches and shake hands with each opponent – as professional clubs do before games.
Staffordshire Ladsandads Football chairman Clive Dean told the Sentinel the move was an internal league decision and he hoped the handshakes would return when the virus has receded.
He explained: “We are erring on the side of caution but we don’t want to lose that idea of friendship where players come together and shake hands after a game. So they will still come together and applaud each other so that spirit of friendship remains.
“There can be all sorts of things going on during a game but it gives people the chance to reflect on why players are here – to play football and enjoy themselves.”
Ladsandads is the umbrella organisation which looks after the North Staffs Junior Youth League, for players aged 7-15, and the North Staffs Youth League, for players 15-18.
The organisation is bigger than ever, with 390 teams and around 4,500 players.
NHS advice on how to avoid catching or spreading germs is
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• put used tissues in the bin immediately
• wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.