The Premier League has confirmed that some players won't be released for international duty in September - due to Covid-19 quarantine issues.
It had been reported this week that Manchester City and Liverpool were going to hold back some of their biggest stars who were due to travel to red-list countries for World Cup qualifiers, meaning that under UK regulations they would have to quarantine in government-approved hotels for ten days.
The decision, taken by the clubs and backed by the Premier League, was confirmed in a statement released on Tuesday evening while they have also attempted to shift the blame onto world football's governing body, FIFA.
"Premier League clubs have today reluctantly but unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red list countries next month," read the statement.
"The clubs’ decision, which is strongly supported by the Premier League, will apply to nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs who are due to travel to 26 red list countries in the September international window.
"This follows FIFA’s current position not to extend its temporary release exception for players required to quarantine on their return from international duty.
"Extensive discussions have taken place with both The FA and the Government to find a solution, but due to ongoing public health concerns relating to incoming travellers from red list countries, no exemption has been granted."
The first international break begins after the next round of Premier League fixtures is completed this weekend.
Nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs are due to travel to 26 red-list countries in the September international window.
In some cases, that would mean missing out on two Premier League fixtures.
"If required to quarantine on return from red list countries, not only would players’ welfare and fitness be significantly impacted, but they would also be unavailable to prepare for and play in two Premier League match rounds, a UEFA club competition matchday and the third round of the EFL Cup," the statement continues.
"This period takes into consideration 10 days of hotel quarantine on return to England but does not include any additional time that would be required for players to regain match fitness."
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters also highlighted the belief held among clubs that quarantine could impact on player fitness before they return to their clubs.
"Premier League clubs have always supported their players’ desires to represent their countries – this is a matter of pride for all concerned," said Masters.
"However, clubs have reluctantly but rightly come to the conclusion that it would be entirely unreasonable to release players under these new circumstances. Quarantine requirements mean that players’ welfare and fitness will be significantly impacted.
"We understand the challenges that exist in the international match calendar and remain open to workable solutions."
The clubs have also expressed their dissatisfaction with FIFA’s decision to extend CONMEBOL’s international window by two days in September and October from nine to 11 days.
They argue that it places additional international obligations on players from that region and they have called on FIFA to work with all stakeholders in an attempt to find an "agreeable conclusion" on the issue.