Bolton Wanderers are considering pulling out the FA Cup in light of the tragic events at White Hart Lane on Saturday which have left Fabrice Muamba fighting for his life.
The midfielder remains in a critical condition at the London Chest Hospital having collapsed unchallenged on the pitch on Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Emotions are understandably running high at Bolton at the moment and the FA have already acceded to the club’s request to call off tomorrow night’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa. The Trotters are also due to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and a decision on whether or not that game will go ahead is expected to be announced in the near future.
The FA Cup fixture with Spurs has already been rescheduled for next Tuesday, eight days from now, but the club are wary of the psychological effect that returning to White Hart Lane so soon after the incident may have on the players and may opt to remove themselves from the competition altogether.
Such a move would normally invite sanction from the FA, but that is highly unlikely to happen in such extreme circumstances. Should Bolton decide to withdraw, Tottenham would be given a bye into the semi-finals, where they would face Chelsea.
Muamba is still fighting for his life in the London Chest Hospital, with reports suggesting that the many uncertainties surrounding his condition and ability to pull through include whether or not he sustained any brain damage immediately after collapsing and whether his heart has the capacity to function on its own as opposed to being aided artificially.
The most recent update on his condition, in a statement on the Bolton website last night, simply read: “Fabrice remains in a critical condition in intensive care in the Heart Attack Centre.
“There will be no further update tonight.”
The international football community have rallied to show their support for Muamba ever since the incident on Saturday night.
Real Madrid wore t-shirts showing their support for both Muamba and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal last night, while former Bolton team-mate Gary Cahill revealed a t-shirt showing his support after scoring for Chelsea against Leicester yesterday. Elsewhere, a minute’s applause was observed by fans and players prior to kick-off in grounds across Britain yesterday.
Speaking about Muamba yesterday, Bolton manager Owen Coyle said: "It is all well and good having a God-given gift and being a great footballer, which Fabrice certainly is, but it is more important to be a good person.
“Fab is a wonderful lad, with a great sense of humour and a beautiful smile and he is well liked by anyone who has come in contact with him."