Amir Khan shuts door on fighting without fans amid coronavirus crisis

Amir Khan shuts the door on bouts without fans amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘An empty arena is not going to lift me up to fight, I will have to wait until they’re full again’

  • Eddie Hearn exclusively revealed to Sportsmail his plan to bring boxing back
  • But Amir Khan will wait for his next bout, when fans are able to attend the fights
  • Promoter Hearn intends to stage fight nights on four consecutive Saturdays
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Amir Khan has shut the door on fighting without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn exclusively revealed to Sportsmail his plan to bring boxing back to the UK from July last week.

But 33-year-old Khan has not entered the ring since beating Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last year and will wait until fans are able to attend for his next bout.

Boxer Amir Khan has shut the door on fighting without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic

‘Fighting in empty arenas when it’s just you, your opponent and the referee just won’t have the same feel,’ he told The Mirror.

‘An empty arena is not going to lift me up to fight, I will have to wait until they’re full again.  

‘How are the fighters going to get motivated? I couldn’t do it but maybe other people can.’

Khan has not fought since beating Billy Dib last year and will wait for his next bout

Hearn intends to stage fight nights on four consecutive Saturdays in the 15-acre grounds of his Matchroom headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, as his plan to bring elite boxing back to Britain amid the coronavirus crisis. 

His £1million plan is to open with the all-Brit world title clash between Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas in mid-July, before closing with Dillian Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin in the first or second Saturday in August.  

The proposal, which is in its advanced stages, will see four cards of five fights each spread across a 28-day stretch. With a working title of Matchroom Fight Camp, the expenditure and the logistical exercise are significant amid the restrictions caused by Covid-19. 

Thirty-three-year-old Khan is happy to wait to enter the ring when fans are allowed to attend

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan says it's 'too early' to host games in capital

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tells the Premier League it is ‘too early’ to host matches in the capital again as he fears the extra burden football will put on the NHS

  • The Premier League remains in talks with the Government over Project Restart 
  • But London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is against staging games in the capital
  • He stressed that it was ‘too early’ to be in discussions about the sport’s return
  • London has been hit hard by the coronavirus although cases are coming down  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says it is ‘too early’ for Premier League matches to be staged in the capital.

The English top flight are still in talks with the Government about Project Restart with aims of getting the season back on track on June 12 and a plan to stage games behind closed doors and in neutral venues.

But in the latest setback to proposals to complete the domestic campaign, Khan said he would be against games being played in London because the country was still ‘in the grips of this crisis’ with many people still dying from coronavirus.   

Sadiq Khan is against staging Premier League games in London in June and says it’s too early

London has been hit particularly hard by the deadly disease, with fatalities in the thousands, and Khan stressed that, even though he wants to see his beloved Liverpool lift the title, the focus had to be on the NHS and the health of the nation.

His spokesman told the Evening Standard: ‘Sadiq is extremely keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume. 

‘However, with the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital.

‘As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq of course wants the Premier League to return, but it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.’

The Mayor opposes matches in the capital, such as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Despite being a Liverpool fan, Khan said it was crucial that a burden was not placed on NHS

He is concerned about an extra burden being place on emergency services during the crisis 

Boris Johnson detailed in his blueprint to bring the UK out of lockdown that sports would be permitted to return from June 1 but that spectators may not be allowed until a vaccine is found.

However, a solid date for a Premier League comeback is yet to be earmarked as clubs continue to debate the best way for action to resume. 

League chief Richard Masters said there was an ‘ongoing dialogue’ with Government and police about football’s return and that the matter was still a live topic among clubs – some of which are opposing a plan to finish the season at neutral grounds.

‘I think everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible,’ he said on Monday. ‘And I think it’s clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others.

‘It is an ongoing dialogue and obviously since Covid-19 became an issue we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and taking all that advice on board.’

West Ham’s London Stadium is a contender to host neutral Premier League games in London 

Premier League CEO Richard Masters said there was still an ‘ongoing dialogue’ about a restart

He said a number of clubs had argued that it may be easier to police their games at their own stadium rather than at a neutral venue.

‘I think some of our clubs would argue that in relation to policing their own fans that they have a good relationship with them, and that they encourage their own fans not to turn up outside their home venues while they’re playing behind closed doors, and they’re in a better position to control that, but it’s not a matter of convincing (the Government and the police), this has to be a decision that’s come to mutually.’

It is understood eight to ten ‘approved’ venues had been put to the clubs as the only safe way to complete the season – with West Ham’s London Stadium one of the contenders in a shortlist that also includes Wembley. 

The head of the UK’s football police unit, Mark Roberts, has insisted the issue is ‘not a big deal’

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s national football policing lead, had told clubs debating the fairness of neutral venues to ‘get a grip’ in a situation where thousands of people have died. 

Roberts said: ‘We need to temper things. When you see people arguing the integrity is so important that ‘”we played them away and now it’s neutral” or “they had their fans and we can’t have ours”. 

‘It might be a big deal in football terms, but in broader society where we have lost 30,000 people and growing that’s not a big deal. 

‘Some people in football need to get a grip and recognise there’s a bigger picture here.’

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan slams Jose Mourinho after he breaks lockdown rules

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused Jose Mourinho of setting a terrible example for children after the Tottenham manager ignored coronavirus lockdown measures to hold a makeshift training session.

Mourinho, Davinson Sanchez, Ryan Sessegnon, Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier were all seen doing fitness work on Hadley Common in Barnet, north London to the surprise of members of the public on Tuesday.

Though it appeared social-distancing guidelines were being observed, the UK government have advised people to keep outdoor ventures to a minimum and to avoid mixing with those not from the same household.

Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

Spurs are said to be ‘very unimpressed’ with Mourinho and Mayor of London Khan has publicly questioned the Portuguese’s potentially dangerous behaviour.

Khan said: ‘My concern is people, particularly children who may support Spurs or follow football, will watch these images and say: “If it’s OK for them, why isn’t it OK for me?”

‘The point I would make, with politeness and courtesy, is ask yourself a question: “Is what I’m doing really necessary?”

‘And the answer is no, I don’t think it is necessary to be training in proximity with another player who may be carrying the virus. 

‘And what you’re doing is inadvertently, unintentionally, potentially spreading the virus.’

Harry Redknapp urged Mourinho to ‘obey the rules’ and ‘do as we’re told’ after the pictures of the Tottenham head coach emerged earlier this week.

‘I’d imagine they’d all live near the training ground, somewhere, and you’d think they’d surely be better off popping off into the training ground wouldn’t they?’ the former Spurs boss told talkSPORT.

‘I guess they’re not allowed to but it would be empty, they’d be no one there. It’s closer than the park, surely.

‘But listen, we’ve all got to obey the rules. ‘If we want to clear this thing up, we’ve got to make sure we do what we’re told.

‘And if we’re told to stay in and keep our distance, than they’ve got to do it.’

Responding to the backlash, Mourinho admitted his actions ‘were not in line with government protocol’ and sent his support to NHS staff amid the health crisis.

‘I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household,’ he said.

‘It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives.’

A Tottenham spokesperson added: ‘All of our players have been reminded to respect social distancing when exercising outdoors.

‘We shall continue to reinforce this message.’

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