The rules Serie A are planning to use to resume the season

Team photos and mascots banned, a mandatory eight-question form on COVID-19 symptoms for anyone attending games and a possible yellow card for spitting! The rules Serie A are planning to use to resume the season

  • Serie A is working towards a return in order to complete the 2019-20 season
  • Team photos will be abolished and mascots will not emerge with the players
  • Players risk being awarded a yellow card if they fall foul of the rules on spitting
  • Sportsmail looks at the protocol the league is looking at to get games back on 

Having seen the Bundesliga in Germany resume their 2019-20 season, Serie A chiefs are looking to follow suit.  

The Italian Football Federation has decided teams in the country’s top three tiers must complete the 2019-20 season by August 20, with the 2020-21 campaign scheduled to begin on September 1.

But with a desire to finish the current campaign – with Juventus just one point ahead of Lazio in the title race – a number of strict measures need to be introduced to ensure the safety of players, coaches and others who are allowed to attend.  

Handshakes will be banned and superfluous contact banned under new Serie A guidelines

In a bid to get games back on behind closed doors, Serie A will have a series of strict rules

Meanwhile, Italian Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora has confirmed decisions made regarding league competition will be ratified in a council meeting on May 28.

‘The Italian Football Federation has expressed its willingness to restart and complete its national professional competitions, marking August 20 as the deadline for Serie A, B and C to close their competitions,’ a FIGC statement read.

‘Ahead of the restart of sporting activity, it will be the Federal Council’s competence to determine the criteria whereby competitions will be finalised.

‘Finally, as a result of what has been sanctioned, the 2020-21 sporting season will start on September 1.’ 

Team photos would breach social distancing and substitutes will be required to wear masks and be separated by at least 1.5 metres, as has been seen in Germany. 

Sportsmail looks at the rules that are to be introduced to ensure a safe transition back to playing games.  

ENTERING THE STADIUM

Everything from the moment players, staff and media arrive at the stadium to navigating through the facility will be strictly monitored. 

Protocol will see increased hand-sanitising stations while there will be rules to ensure social distancing is respected throughout. 

The teams will enter the pitch separately to avoid meeting in the tunnel, as is typical under normal circumstances. 

Handshakes will be prohibited, team photos will be scrapped, and there will be no mascots to accompany the players onto the pitch. These rules represent a new phase of football in Italy.

Only 300 people will be allowed at games and medical checks and a questionnaire will be key

MANAGERS WEARING MASKS

Much like has been seen in Germany, it will be imperative for substitutes and coaches on the bench to keep at least two or three places away from each other. 

Everyone must wear a mask while not in action on the pitch. 

Managers will only be able to remove their mask to give instructions to his players but in doing so, he must provide the instructions at a distance of at least one and a half metres. 

ONLY 300 PEOPLE IN THE STADIUM… AND NO CONTACT WITH REFEREES!

There will be a maximum of 300 people in the stadium and there will be no contact with the referees before the start of the match. 

Monumental stadiums that can hold up to 80,000 people will be reduced to a small. number of key workers. 

The 300 people allowed to intend does include the players and the non-playing staff of the two teams. 

Team photos, such as this Lazio one from October, will be scrapped under new guidelines

There will be gel dispensers dotted across all areas of the stadium, as well as in the changing rooms, to ensure cleanliness. 

Anyone who is involved in the day will have to undergo a health check by completing a questionnaire on symptoms of Covid-19 – it includes eight questions. 

Journalists who are eligible to attend games will not be able to access the press room. It will remain closed.

SPITTING COULD LEAD TO POSSIBLE YELLOW CARD

To ensure players avoid contact with saliva, it will be strictly forbidden to spit while on the pitch.

It is an unhygienic habit that has been visible for many years in football but with the current public health situation, a hard line will be taken if players are seen to be spitting. 

There will be no more handshakes and the toss of the coin to choose the side of the pitch and who has the ball will no longer be key parts to starting the match.

In another measure to observe social distancing where possible, during the match it will be forbidden to protest decisions and go within less than 1.5 metres of the referee.

Referees will be protected by social distancing with appeals required to be at least 1.5m away

INCREASED CHANGING ROOM SPACE

For the changing rooms, the plan is to open up adjacent rooms and as allow for as many chairs as possible to ensure adequate social distancing.

The rooms must be disinfected regularly – even between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. 

Players will only be able to use single showers, without ice tubs or a whirlpool. Only referees may enter the referees’ room.




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Premier League are going round in circles as decision deadline looms

SAMI MOKBEL: The Premier League is reeling after fruitless restart talks… Club execs are going round in circles amid accusations of sabotage and greed and there’s LITTLE prospect of a quick return

  • Monday’s Premier League meeting only agreed the extension of player contracts
  • A vote on the season’s timetable moving forward was delayed until next week
  • The meeting saw more clubs voice their opposition at the use of neutral venues 
  • Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal joined the bottom six in expressing opposition 

Another meeting, another set of unanswered questions. It seems we’re going round in circles at the moment.

The only definitive to emerge out of Monday’s Premier League meeting was to agree to extend playing contracts that conclude at the end of next month. 

But the biggest question of all remains shrouded in complexity. Will Project Restart get off the ground? The answer is: we don’t know.

The timetable for the restart of the Premier League is still up in the air after Monday’s meeting

The vote has been delayed amid unrest at neutral venues, led by Brighton CEO Paul Barber

The vote, which was originally due to take place at Monday’s Premier League meeting, has been postponed until next week.

The issue of playing the remaining 92 games at neutral venues remains the most divisive factor between clubs.

Some are happy to complete the season away from home but a growing number of clubs – at least two thirds – have now spoken up in opposition against the plan.

For the dissenters, the theory is that playing at neutral venues severely damages the reputation of the competition.

Of course, that is a valid argument. The Bundesliga, for example, are aiming to complete their season as normal at each venue.

So, too, are the Championship. Indeed, the plan to complete the Premier League season at neutral venues has confused many in the EFL, who simply can’t comprehend why such a plan has been hatched when they, albeit behind closed doors, are proposing to finish the season as normal.

The prospect of fans congregating outside stadiums remains a key factor behind the neutral venues plan. So, does that mean we can’t trust our supporters to be responsible? That’s a dangerous view to take.

Liverpool fans are known to turn out in huge numbers to support their club on match days

Equally, those in favour of playing at neutral venues will point to the financial implications if no more games are played.

Clubs have been warned they face receiving virtually no income from August 1. Clubs will have no option but to make redundancies in that scenario.

There is a frustrations among clubs that are happy to play at neutral venues towards those who are trying to sabotage the proposals.

‘They are being short-sighted,’ said one Premier League official.

Brighton, though opposed to neutral venues, is among grounds listed as potential hubs 

Premier League execs, such as Man Utd’s Ed Woodward, can’t currently agree on the restart

‘They are trying to stay in the Premier League by hook or by crook. That’s fine – but what sort of Premier League will they be in if we don’t get games up and running?’

The arguments for and against are compelling in equal measure. As it stands, the majority of clubs want the Premier League, to at the very least, investigate the prospect of seeing out the season at their own stadiums.

Whether or not the government or police are willing to give clubs the green light to do so remains to be seen.

The fact Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts – the man in charge of football policing in England – told clubs against the notion of neutral venues to ‘get a grip’ last week suggests not.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts told those against notion of neutral venues to ‘get a grip’

Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow is another voice against neutral venues to finish the season

In that scenario, effectively meaning it’s either neutral venues or nothing at all, clubs are expected to vote for the former.

Not completing the season could have disastrous consequences for clubs after the FA chairman Greg Clarke insisted in Monday’s meeting that the campaign must finish on ‘sporting merit’

If games don’t recommence, that will likely be in the form of a points per game system, effectively consigning clubs to relegation without another ball being kicked.

You would imagine resuming the season is the more beneficial option in that scenario. There was optimism last week that the Premier League would secure the 14 votes necessary to get Project Restart in its current guise approved.

But there appeared to be a shift in opinion at Monday’s meeting; clubs like Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal joining the bottom six in expressing opposition to the plan to play at neutral venues. 

This is a significant shift in opinion, which led the Premier League to pledge to discuss the matter again with the Government.

Several clubs also spoke of their fears over losing significant revenue if they are unable to play at their own ground because of commercial deals linked to their stadiums.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is looking to restart the season next month

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters also confirmed that the possibility of curtailing the season had been discussed for the first time on Monday and that relegation would be imposed even in that instance.

All that means, it is looking increasingly likely that clubs are prepared to vote to play the remaining 92 matches.

The details of how top-flight football can return – however – is still to be concluded. Next Monday is D-day. But how many times have we said that recently?


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Chelsea are 'eyeing summer move for PSG starlet Kays Ruiz-Atil'

Chelsea are ‘eyeing summer move for Paris Saint-Germain starlet Kays Ruiz-Atil’ as the midfielder enters final year of his deal with French champions

  • Chelsea are in talks with 17-year-old PSG youth academy talent Kays Ruiz-Atil
  • The Blues are reportedly eyeing up a summer move for the talented midfielder
  • Arsenal, Dortmund and Marseille have previously been linked with Ruiz-Atil

Chelsea are in talks over a move to sign Paris Saint-Germain starlet Kays Ruiz-Atil, according to reports in France.

The 17-year-old is entering the final year of his deal with the Ligue 1 champions and has been a target for Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Marseille during the winter window.

However, French news outlet L’Equipe is reporting that Chelsea are pressing ahead with a summer move.

Chelsea are in talks with 17-year-old Paris Saint-Germain youth academy talent Kays Ruiz-Atil

The report goes on to suggest that the midfielder’s family are waiting for a firm sign from Chelsea that they are happy to press ahead with a deal while discussing where the teenager would fit into their setup at Stamford Bridge.

The teenager has told the PSG hierarchy that he wants to be training with the first team at the very least from next season before making his senior debut for the club.

His current deal is set to expire in 2021 while he looks set to be heading for the exit after recently hiring Alain Migliaccio as his agent.

The youngster joined Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy at the age of seven, but was later released in 2014 along with several others after the Spanish champions breached FIFA regulations regarding the transfer of players under the age of 18.

The teenager has told the PSG hierarchy that he wants to be training with the first team

While his time was cut short in Catalonia, Ruiz-Atil insists he still took a lot away from his time in the club’s academy. 

‘Yes, yes, the real Barcelona – the one with the striped jersey that makes you dream so much,’ Ruiz-Atil said in an interview with Le Parisien in 2019. ‘Beyond the great education that Masia taught me, I have the chance today to speak fluent Spanish.

‘At 16 years old, I realise that it is a precious skill to have going forward in my football career, which I hope is the best possible.’




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How sports are making plans to resume after coronavirus

Bundesliga players train two metres apart, NBA stars are on 25-day ‘back-to-fitness’ plans and Australian rugby returns on May 28… How sports around the world are making plans to restart after lockdown

  • Sport right across the globe has been shut down because of coronavirus 
  • But there are signs in some countries that things may soon get back to normal
  • In Germany, all Bundesliga clubs are back in training ahead of May restart
  • Australia’s NRL wants to get playing again by the end of next month 
  • NBA stars could be put through 25-day training programme to restore fitness
  • Baseball and ice hockey in North America could be played on neutral territory  
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Sport in all corners of the world has ground to a halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with teams and athletes for the most part unable to train let alone compete.

Entire nations, even continents, have been placed into lockdown to stop the spread of the killer virus and, frankly, sport has been the least of our concerns.

But in some countries, thoughts are starting to turn to how sport may be able to resume in a few weeks or months’ time. Indeed, in some places, teams are already training again and preparing to play.

Sportsmail takes a look at where we may see the resumption of sport in the near future and where plans are being made to get the action going again.

Sports venues around the world have been locked shut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

There are only five active football leagues around the world – in Belarus, Taiwan, Nicaragua, Tajikistan and Burundi – with every other competition suspended but there’s hope some may return in the coming weeks.

The most high profile will be Germany’s Bundesliga, where all 18 teams have now returned to training, albeit in small groups of no more than seven players to comply with health regulations.

To comply with social distancing, the players have to remain at least 1.5 metres apart at all time and have been asked to get changed at home before and after training.

Bayern Munich players have been training in smaller groups since returning to the pitches 

However, the Bundesliga has now delayed a decision to play behind closed doors having originally pencilled in a return on May 9. 

Discussions about whether the Bundesliga can resume will now not be until at least the next round of government talks take place on April 30. 

Premier League players have been instructed to scale back their schedules ahead of a return to full training by the end of May as they inch closer to a return.

Clubs have outlined the next steps towards football’s return in emails to their squads seen by Sportsmail. They were told to expect a return to group training by the end of next month, cancel any plans to leave the country during what is effectively their ‘off season’ and be ready to resume football ‘activities’ at 48 hours’ notice.

The English Football League are also planning for matches to resume from June 6 if it safe to do so. 

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer makes a flying save during a training session last week

Ligue 1 chiefs plan to restart the 2019-20 season on June 17, with a scheduled end to the campaign a month later on July 25.

French publication L’Equipe reported that clubs face playing every three days to ensure enough time for the relegation and promotion play-offs.

That would also allow those clubs competing in Europe to wrap up the Champions League and Europa League competitions following a UEFA proposal to play ties during August. 

In Sweden, which has gone against the grain of other European countries by only imposing a limited lockdown amid the pandemic, football is being played.

The Government there has restricted gathering of more than 50 people, but that’s fine for lower league clubs who are playing pre-season friendlies ahead of the new campaign.

One interesting side-effect of the complete dearth of football worldwide is that some of these friendlies are becoming the subject of intense interest from gamblers.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic trained with Swedish top-flight club Hammarby on Easter Monday 

Almost 150 bookmakers worldwide offered a market on a game between seventh-tier Eskilstuna and eight-tier Naeshulta, raising fears of match-fixing after people contacted players to try and influence the result. The game was eventually played behind closed doors.

The start of the top-flight Allsvenskan league has been put back but teams are training, with Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic rocking up at Hammarby, the club he part owns, to play football last week.

Elsewhere in Europe, players are still only able to train at home. In Spain, Real Sociedad intended to return to training on Tuesday but performed a U-turn following criticism.

Vincent Kompany wanted his Anderlecht players back in training in Monday despite the Belgian league already cancelling the remaining games.

Italy’s football federation is hoping to test players at the beginning of May with a view to resuming training and, eventually, restarting the season.

But, like all European leagues, it depends entirely on when cases of Covid-19 actually peak.

Brazilian player Hulk in action for Shanghai SIPG – the Chinese Super League season hopes to kick off next month having been delayed by the virus

In China, where the pandemic originated, clubs in the country’s Super League are back in training or about to resume full training despite the games being postponed.

The expectation is that the league will begin during the second or third week of May though some overseas players may not be fully match sharp having been locked out of China as the virus spread.

Shanghai SIPG’s Brazilian duo Oscar and Hulk were among the lucky ones, reportedly getting back into China 10 minutes before the borders were closed.

RUGBY UNION

Rugby around the globe remains very much shut down as a result of coronavirus.

In England, the RFU has already ended the season for all levels below the Premiership, while the top division, originally suspended until April 14, is now on hold indefinitely.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a similar situation in Super Rugby, with competition suspended since mid-March.

A group of players from New Zealand-based club Crusaders received a ticking off after they breached lockdown rules to hold a training session in a local park last week.

Crusaders play the Sunwolves in a Super Rugby fixture prior to the New Zealand lockdown

The players, including All Blacks fly-half Richie Mo’unga, were filmed informally training in Christchurch, keeping their distance but passing and kicking a ball to one another.

New Zealand’s lockdown rules are similar to the UK in that exercise is only permitted with members of your households. In this case, the players were two separate groups of flatmates who happened to be in the same park at the same time.

One major complication to the resumption of Super Rugby is that it spans five different countries – Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa – and travel restrictions are unlikely to be eased anytime soon.

RUGBY LEAGUE

The Super League is likely to be shut down for some time and there’s no action Down Under either with the NRL suspended until May 1 after briefly playing games in empty stadiums.

The aim now is to resume training on May 1 and games on May 28, but this plan has already been described as ‘ambitious’ by health officials.

The NRL’s suggestion to truncate the season to just 15 rounds was shot down by broadcaster Channel Nine, who want more for their investment.

The NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels is played out before an empty stadium in late March before the league was suspended 

CRICKET

This weekend should have marked the opening of the County Championship season in England and Wales but cricket is no different to any other sport in being locked down.

The ECB has already said there will be no professional cricket in the UK until at least May 28, which will leave an almighty scramble to fit it all in before the end of September.

It is hoped a revised fixture list for the English summer can be discussed at an ECB board meeting on April 23-24.

The T20 Blast competition will be the top priority because of its importance to the finances of the counties and also the broadcaster Sky Sports.

But The Hundred, the new short-form competition that was set to be launched this summer, may have to wait until 2021.

The Hundred, a new cricket competition, could be pushed back until 2021 with the domestic cricket season set to be much shortened 

Sky has given their blessing to the delay despite investing £1.1billion in their latest TV deal and it is believed they would rather wait than broadcast a pale imitation this year without crowds and many overseas stars.

In terms of international matches, Australia have already cancelled their June tour of Bangladesh but it’s hoped England’s home Test series with West Indies, scheduled to start on June 4, will happen.

However, ECB director of cricket Ashley Giles admitted this series is now looking ‘less and less likely.’

England are also set to play Pakistan in Test and short form matches, as well as Australia and Ireland in white ball matches.

The possibility of fielding different England teams in different formats on the same day or on consecutive days has also been raised 

England’s World Cup-winning one day side may have to play on the same day as the Test team

TENNIS

The tennis season has already been decimated with the ATP and WTA Tours already suspended until June 7 and Wimbledon cancelled.

The organisers of the French Open caused controversy by moving their Slam to the end of September, just a week after the conclusion of the US Open in New York.

While tennis stars in most countries can continue their training schedules, it really isn’t clear at the moment given the global nature of the sport, how many tournaments they will actually have to compete in this year.

BASKETBALL

The NBA season was shut down last month with coronavirus spreading across North America and we appear to be some distance from a return.

Teams are faced with anywhere between 13 and 16 regular season games followed by possible post-season play-offs but everything is now up in the air.

Few details have yet emerged about how the NBA will get going again but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that executives and coaches are discussing a 25-day return to action plan.

NBA stars such as LeBron James (right) could go through a 25-day fitness programme before the league resumes following coronavirus

This would involve players completing 11 days of individual workouts to restore their fitness levels followed by, health clearance permitting, a 14-day training camp.

Quite when this 25-day training programme can be put into action is another matter entirely.

President Donald Trump has also weighed in stateside, with sport a cornerstone of his vision to get the country moving again.

He said: ‘We have to get our sports back. I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old. But I haven’t actually had too much time to watch. I would say maybe I watch one batter then I get back to work.’

BASEBALL AND ICE HOCKEY

Also in North America, the NHL ice hockey season was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, while the MLB baseball season was about to get underway.

Both sports are toying with ideas for when it’s safe to get going again, with NHL considering offers from neutral venues around the US and Canada that could host games behind closed doors.

All NHL teams had between 11 and 14 fixtures to complete when the league was shut down.

MLB was in the middle of Spring Training when the decision was made to delay the start of the season indefinitely.

Some of the MLB season could be played at Spring Training venues if the lockdown goes on 

Since then, contingency plans have emerged, such as all 30 MLB teams playing games in Arizona, using Spring training sites and Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks.

The players would be housed in ‘relative isolation’ and travel to and from the ballparks each day.

Another reported plan involved teams returning to Spring training bases in Florida and Arizona and only playing there with the leagues aligned by who has been based there.

President Donald Trump  

AUSSIE RULES

The AFL season started behind closed doors but was quickly suspended as Australia came under stricter lockdown rules.

Some clubs now hope to be back in training on May 4 with a view to resuming the season later that month.

An opening round AFL Aussie Rules game between Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide Power is played out before empty stands

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II as All England Club chiefs called the tournament off at an emergency meeting.

It was considered impossible for the tournament to be moved back to later in the year, or to be played without fans, and so chiefs have pulled the plug entirely.

This is the first time that Wimbledon will not be staged since 1945. Only one Grand Slam has missed a year since the war, the 1986 Australian Open, and that was for the technical reason of the date shifting forward from December into January. 

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 

 

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WNBA 2020 Draft: What are the major storylines?

Like everything else during these unprecedented days, this 2020 WNBA Draft will not look like any of the others that have preceded it.

The 24th season in WNBA history is planted on shifting ground thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, a difficult contrast to a thrilling offseason that included a historic Collective Bargaining Agreement and the most compelling free agency period in league history.

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Liverpool owners are worth £5BILLION – so why did they furlough staff?

Fenway Sports Group are worth £5BILLION and own Liverpool AND the Boston Red Sox… so with club chairman John W Henry worth £2bn alone and the proud owner of a £68m super-yacht, it’s no wonder their decision to furlough staff is so despised

  • Liverpool announced they would be furloughing non-playing staff on Saturday 
  • It rankled, given their financial successes that were announced this year
  • They are part of Fenway Sports Group – third richest sports group worldwide
  • With the MLB season delayed, there will be concerns across the organisation 

As the news broke over the weekend that Liverpool would be putting their non-playing staff on furlough, a quote from chief executive Peter Moore from last year started doing the rounds.

‘We had this historical figure, Bill Shankly, a Scottish socialist, who built the foundations. Today too, when we speak about business questions, we ask ourselves: ‘What would Shankly have done? what would Bill have said in this situation?”

Last month, Jurgen Klopp made it clear where he stood on coronavirus: ‘The first thing you have to do is be generous: generous with words, generous with feelings and generous with money of course as well. That’s what we do, that’s clear, wherever we can help we try to help, 100 per cent.’ 

Liverpool announced they would be putting their non-playing staff on furlough this weekend

The Boston Red Sox have also seen the season postponed amid the coronavirus crisis

The two teams are owned by John W Henry and his company, Fenway Sports Group

Fenway Sports Group were founded as New England Sports Ventures in 2001 when John W Henry joined up with Tom Werner, Les Otten and the New York Times Company to bid for the Boston Red Sox.

They became Fenway Sports Group in March 2011.

FSG own the Red Sox, Liverpool, Fenway Sports Management, the Salem Red Sox, 80 per cent of the New England Sports Network and 50 per cent of Roush Racing. 

Moore’s words were a nice idea but the truth of the modern Liverpool is that they are the product of ruthless capitalism. They are, after all, part of the third biggest sports conglomerate on the planet. 

This is an organisation valued in the billions and now they are using taxpayer money to prop up an arm of the business.

John W Henry has been the owner of Liverpool since 2010, when he took over from the failed Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr regime. 

He made his money in the financial markets and quickly moved into sports ownership. There was his stint owning the Tuscon Turos, a minority stake in the New York Yankees and then the purchase of the Florida Marlins before the end of the last century.

Henry’s real announcement that he was on the scene was buying the Boston Red Sox along with Tom Werner in 2002. They are one of the most storied franchises in MLB and under Henry and Werner, have tasted serious success. 

Werner was an executive producer for television shows and had that role on The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70s Show.

Henry owns the two giant teams alongside his partner in FSG, Tom Werner (right)

Henry and Werner have already turned the Red Sox into one of the modern powerhouses

Together they have crafted the first team in the 21st century to win four World Series, ending the 86-year ‘Curse of the Bambino’ in the process. 

Their company, Fenway Sports Group, is named after the Red Sox’s stadium. That umbrella organisation also owns Liverpool. At a lower level, they also run Roush Fenway Racing from NASCAR and minor league baseball sides the Pawtucket Red Sox and Salem Red Sox.

Combine a serial winner in MLB and a team that took the Champions League last season and looks set for the Premier League this campaign and you can understand why FSG was valued at $6.6billion (£5.3bn) last year by Forbes.

That’s only behind Arsenal owners Kroenke Sports – $8.4bn (£6.8bn) – also owners of the LA Rams, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones – $6.9bn (£5.6bn) – in terms of ownership groups worldwide.

Like Liverpool, the Red Sox are facing significant lost revenues amid the coronavirus crisis

Within that, there is also 80 per cent ownership of the New England Sports Network, and control of the Boston Globe, although the value of those stakes pale in comparison to Liverpool and the Red Sox.  

Henry himself was estimated to have a personal net worth of $2.6bn (£2.1bn) in November 2018 on the back of his sporting success. Last year he listed one of his properties – known as the House of Peace – at $15m (£12m). It featured seven bedrooms, a home cinema, a sports bar, a library, a gym and an outdoor kitchen.

According to the Liverpool Echo, he also splashed out £68m on a luxury super-yacht in 2016 – which can accommodate 12 overnight guests and has an ornate fireplace in the main saloon, an infinity pool located aft of the main deck, an elevator, a spa center, a gym and a helipad.

Those numbers are all well and good when the global situation is normal, but the truth is that Henry and FSG must be feeling some of the pressure brought about by coronavirus.

The 70-year-old has seen assumed revenue from the rest of Liverpool’s season – plus the benefits of a new kit deal with Nike – go up in smoke, while the baseball campaign has been suspended until at least the middle of May. There are serious concerns it might not go ahead at all.

There is no current indication of when the Premier League might return to action

MLB’s commissioner Rob Manfred announced a delay last month, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US have recommended against gatherings of 50 or more until at least May 10.

Last week, an agreement was rapidly reached between players and owners across the league that saw both sides agree to concessions. 

Players will receive $170m (£138m) in salary in advance over the next two months – which pales in comparison to what they might expect to earn – and ‘service time’ credit, which sees players edge towards free agency. 

Red Sox pitcher David Price, for example, rakes in £485,000 a week, or £2.1m a month. Split with the rest of the division, he will not receive anywhere near the £4.2m he is meant to between now and the end of May.

There has been no indication that non-playing staff might be hit at the Red Sox as it stands. Clubs across the league promised full-time employees will receive their salary until April 30 with nobody to be made redundant.

The Red Sox were in the middle of spring training when they had to postpone activities

WHAT DOES FURLOUGH MEAN? 

When an employee is placed on furlough they are temporarily put on a leave of absence and not paid, although they remain on the payroll, meaning that they do not lose their job.

This could be because there is no work for these employees, or that the company is not able to afford to pay them, because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

In the United Kingdom, the Government is offering to pay 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, until they are able to resume their job full time.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will last for at least three months from March 1.

That said, some employees in MLB have received a warning letter to give a 60-day notice on potential mass redundancies. 

Like in England, there is a lot at stake financially. There is a potential $1bn that will be lost in broadcast advertising revenue for America’s top three sports leagues amid the pandemic, according to Media Radar. It matches the Premier League’s potential TV rights bill of £762m.

That would be a particular concern for Henry, given his ownership of New England Sports Network, which broadcasts games from the Red Sox and the Boston Bruins. 

A solution that has been pitched is playing behind closed doors in empty spring training ballparks in Florida and Arizona, while quarantining players.

But in a similar vein to the Premier League’s own plan for a possible ‘festival of football’, that depends on how the pandemic develops. The disease does not follow the best laid plans of mice and managers.

A stark warning came last week when a Boston Red Sox minor league player tested positive for coronavirus. That meant they had to shut down the South Player Development Complex and give it a deep clean. An organisational hub of this franchise had been hit. 

Henry and Werner will have concerns about what the coronavirus crisis means for their teams

Yet back on these shores, the decision to turn to the government to pay 80 per cent of non-playing staff wages will rankle. Their statement explained: ‘Liverpool FC has placed some staff who are impacted by the Premier League suspension on furlough. 

‘The club has confirmed those staff will be paid 100 per cent of their salaries to ensure no member of staff is financially disadvantaged. Last month the club also confirmed that it would pay its matchday and non-matchday staff while the Premier League is suspended.

‘Even prior to the decision on staff furloughing, there was a collective commitment at senior levels of the club – on and off the pitch – with everyone working towards a solution that secures jobs for employees of the club during this unprecedented crisis. 

‘There is ongoing active engagement about the topic of salary deductions during the period matches are not being played to schedule. These discussions are complex and as a result the process is ongoing.’ 

That is especially the case given Liverpool posted pre-tax profits of £42m in 2018-19 and publicised that in February this year. Sure, they might be topping up staff wages themselves but it is a plaster on a bullet wound.

And while there might be problems across Fenway Sports Group if this crisis continues to develop, the most any Premier League side is estimated to potentially save from furloughing staff is £1.3m per month. That’s 1/4000th of FSG’s value.

Piers Morgan slammed them on Monday. ‘Liverpool Football club built up such a good reputation in recent years under Jurgen Klopp, and winning the Champions League, this dynamic wonderful team, everyone was proud, everyone loved what Liverpool were standing for,’ he said on Good Morning Britain.

‘All gone, all gone, because their billionaire owners in America decided that this was the time in a year when they made £45m profit that they were going to furlough their staff at Liverpool Football Club.’

Henry pictured with wife Linda Pizzuti (second left), Jurgen Klopp and Werner in 2016

Jamie Carragher also tweeted over the weekend: ‘Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in players taking wage cuts. Then all that respect & goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC.’

Former player Dietmar Hamann was equally taken aback, adding: ‘Astonished by the news that @LFC takes advantage of the furlough scheme to claim 80 per cent of non-playing staff wages back off the government. That’s not what the scheme was designed for. Contrary to the morals and values of the club I got to know.’ 

According to reports, there had already been talks about how sacrifices could be made to help all staff and society on Merseyside while this crisis goes on. The move on Saturday diminishes that and the charitable efforts of the Liverpool players, with the squad yet to agree to a pay cut. 

Some people have pointed out that it makes simple business sense to use a scheme open to businesses – it will protect Liverpool in the long-term. At the same time, though, it also clearly shatters the image that Moore and Liverpool have created for the organisation.

Henry, Werner and the whole of FSG now have a lot on their plate across their various ventures. This furloughing, in financial terms, is just a small portion of that. 




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How cricketers are coping during coronavirus

Another day in self-isolation, another day without cricket… I’m not going crazy. Who said I was going crazy?!

As the days merge into one it’s getting harder to come up with ways to stay occupied at home and pretend we’re not missing cricket.

And it’s not just us fighting off the boredom. Cricket stars have got creative in lockdown and taken to their phone to keep us entertained and show us nifty ways to keep fit at home.

So sit back, relax, stay at home and check out the best of cricket social in self-isolation…

Teething troubles

Were you one of those like Jofra Archer who spent the first few days forgetting you couldn’t leave the house?

Wasim Akram was having some technical issues once training was cancelled. Someone help the poor guy out…

Only cricket fans could come up with the perfect analogy to describe the current situation. This is brilliant! Stokes/NHS do your thing, we’ll be over here wiping our glasses…

‘What do you mean, we can still play cricket?’

Don’t let Covid-19 stop you – there are still plenty of ways to keep up the skills training. Freya Ruth challenged her team-mates to the round-the-world challenge…

Danielle Gibson posted back with a cheeky hat catch!

The world of football may be all over the toilet roll challenge, but this post took it to a whole new level. Who’d have thought recreating the World Cup final using toilet roll would be just as epic?

Who doesn’t love recreating the big moments…?

Sam Curran is no stranger to having to play cricket in his back yard. He shared a cute video of him practising his batting at the age of three with a sock and again now and we are loving it!

All hail the #cricketsockswing…

And it’s not just batting. Sophie Luff got creative with some roof tiles for her self-isolation catching practice…

Tom Banton tried to get his dog to go in the slips but didn’t have much luck…

But Kane Williamson’s dog Sandy took to it like a pro – howzat!

If mum says so, maybe you could risk playing indoors like Shreyas Gopal…

And it’s not just cricketers who are getting their batting groove on. Rugby legend Dan Carter padded up with his son for a game in the back garden…

#HOMETEAM, home workouts and homies

Jimmy goes all superdad and gets his daughters to help him stay in shape…

Life after one week really hit home for Shikhar Dhawan…

But David Warner still looks like he’s managing to find time to keep up the skills…

Meanwhile, Jofra has another challenge in mind…

We don’t blame you for hitting the crisps. Who else is eating all the food while stuck in self-isolation? Guilty.

‘To all the cricket I loved before – I still miss you’

If you’re still missing cricket between all the cricket and workout challenges, iPlayer and Netflix binge watching, enjoy a good throwback like Ravi Ashwin.

Or give a thought to Jos Buttler, who is passing the time by help wife Louise demonstrate simple Pilates exercises. It’s not obvious at all how much he’s missing cricket…

After all the exercise and home workouts, you’ve earned yourself a nice sit-down, and what better way to do it than with a jigsaw of THAT iconic moment…?

And if all that’s not enough to quench your thirst for cricket you can opt to follow a simulation match, and check it out – England ‘won’ the first Test!

Maybe being in lockdown isn’t so bad after all.

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