Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick retires after 15 years on the board

Sir Chips Keswick has retired after seven years as chairman of Arsenal, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

Keswick, 80, joined the Gunners board in 2005 and was appointed chairman in June 2013 after his predecessor Peter Hill-Wood was forced to step down on health grounds.

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It is understood the club will not seek to appoint a new chairman, with the board now consisting of Stan Kroenke, Josh Kroenke, Lord Harris and Ken Friar.

Keswick said: “It has been an honour to be the chairman of this great football club. Arsenal has always held a special place in my life and that will remain the case in the future.

“I made my plan to retire at the end of this season clear to the board, before the global health crisis we are now experiencing. The club is in safe hands with Stan and Josh, the board and the executive team.

“I know Arsenal will emerge strongly from this situation and I look forward, like all our supporters around the world, to seeing the team in action as soon as possible.”

In a statement, Stan and Josh Kroenke said: “We would like to express our immense gratitude for everything Sir Chips has done for Arsenal Football Club as a board member and chairman of the board over the past 15 years.

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Premier League set to resume on June 17 after positive talks held

The Premier League is set to resume on June 17 with Manchester City hosting Arsenal and Aston Villa playing Sheffield United.

Project Restart was given the green light after talks between the 20 clubs were held today.

The "majority" of Premier League clubs are keen to get things back underway next month.

Plans were initially for football to return on June 12 – but amid fears of player fitness and injuries, clubs pushed to hold back a further week.

Leicester's win over Aston Villa on March 9 was the last Premier League outing before the coronavirus enforced break.

Now the two matches postponed back in February due to Villa and City's participation in the League Cup final, are set to kickoff the remaining 92 games.

It will ensure every club has played 29 games ahead of the remaining 90 fixtures, which are set to then take place from the following weekend.

According to reports, Friday nights are being reserved for EFL matches.

However, there is the possibility that a Premier League fixture – potentially Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur – could take place on Friday, June 19.

Top flight clubs have gradually looked to bring a sense of normality back to proceedings, with clubs paying witness to how the Bundesliga has made its return from its suspension.

Germany's top-flight have already played three rounds of matches, as it bids to complete its 2019-20 campaign.

Earlier this week, Premier League clubs voted in favour of a return to full contact training, stepping up what can happen at training grounds across the country as they push ahead with plans to return.

A Premier League statement said: "Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.

"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

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Sources: MLBPA to seek more games, no pay cut

    ESPN MLB insider
    Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”

The Major League Baseball Players Association expects to counter MLB’s economic proposal by the end of this week with a plan that includes more than 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries for the 2020 season, sources familiar with union discussions told ESPN.

The disagreement over economics has ratcheted up in recent days after the league’s first proposal Tuesday rankled players. On multiple phone calls Wednesday, players essentially pledged to ignore the league’s proposal and offer instead one of its own, according to sources familiar with the calls.

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer, one of eight players on the MLBPA’s powerful executive subcommittee, tweeted Wednesday night that the significant pay cuts in the league’s proposal would not be accepted and the union would remain committed to players receiving their full prorated salaries.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer wrote.

MLB’s proposal called for pay reductions on top of players’ prorated salaries, which would be scaled to reflect the number of games played. In MLB’s 82-game proposal, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout would be paid less than $6 million instead of the $19 million-plus he would receive prorated. While the pay cuts would be less severe for a large swath of lower-paid players, the union’s rancor was clear and immediate.

The union’s desire to play more games could ultimately be used as a chip for a negotiation to reach a return-to-play deal. For now, however, if players are being paid on a prorated basis, more games would lead to a greater salary for the players. The league has balked at a longer schedule, fearful that a potential second wave of the coronavirus could wipe out the postseason — and the lucrative national television money that goes along with it.

In a presentation to players, MLB said it would lose significant amounts of money if games are played in 2020 and players receive their full pro rata. The union has held firm that a March 27 agreement between the parties ensures them their prorated share, while the league believes language in the agreement calls for a good-faith negotiation in the event that games are played in empty stadiums.

The union remains skeptical of the data the league shared that showed significant losses across the sport, and recently submitted additional document requests to the league in search of information about local television revenue, national television revenue, sponsorship revenue and projections from teams.

“We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received,” Scherzer wrote in his statement. “I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

MLB has proposed playing in front of no fans in games starting the first week in July, though that timeline could be pushed back if labor discussions stretch on and preclude spring training 2.0 starting in mid-June.

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Premier League: Four more positive cases after third round of coronavirus testing

Four more people from three Premier League clubs have tested positive for coronavirus after the third round of testing.

There were 1,008 tests carried out on Monday and Tuesday – and a fourth round will take place on Thursday and Friday, with up to 60 people from each club to be tested.

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It is not yet known whether the four new positive tests are players, non-playing staff, or a combination of both – or whether any of the positives are from people who tested positive in the first round and who have returned after self-isolating for seven days.

A statement read: “The Premier League can today confirm that on Monday 25 May and Tuesday 26 May, 1,008 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19.

“Of these, four have tested positive from three clubs.

“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.

“Previously, between 19-22 May, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19, of which two tested positive from two clubs.

“Some 748 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19 on 17-18 May, with six testing positive from three clubs.

“For the fourth round of testing, the number of tests available to each club will be increased from 50 to 60.”

COVID-19 impact on football

March 5 – Pre-match handshakes banned in the Premier League.
March 11 – Man City v Arsenal is first Premier League game suspended; Liverpool v Atletico Madrid the last top level game played in England.
March 12 – Man Utd, Wolves play away Europa League ties behind closed doors, Rangers host Bayer Leverkusen in front of fans.
March 13 – Football suspended following an emergency meeting between PL, FA, EFL and WSL
April 15 – SPFL clubs approve plan to end the Scottish Championship, League One and league Two seasons.
May 15 – League Two clubs vote to end the season with immediate effect.
May 17 – Premier League players and staff tested for COVID-19.
May 18 – Scottish Premiership curtailed, with points per game determining league positions and Celtic named champions.
May 19 – Premier League clubs return to socially distanced group training.
May 25 – Women’s Super League cancelled, with title and relegation to be determined.
May 27 –Premier League clubs vote to resume contact training.

The next set of testing will be the first to be conducted when at least some of the Premier League clubs have resumed contact training, which was unanimously approved on Wednesday.

No matches have been played in the Premier League since March, but the government has given the go-ahead for elite sport to resume from June 1.

And the return of contact training is seen as a major step towards a possible resumption of the Premier League next month.

Clubs will meet again on Thursday to discuss the broader details of how what has been dubbed Project Restart might take shape – including contingency talks on how curtailment of the season would look, if it is not deemed safe to resume.

Premier League clubs approve contact training

Premier League clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a return to contact training, in another significant step towards the resumption of matches “when safe to do so”.

The significance of contact training is that it’s the single biggest step towards the resumption of matches.

Throughout the pandemic there have been concerns raised about the risks associated with training and what it takes for coronavirus to be transmitted on the pitch.

If there is no spike in positive tests, with fewer negative results over more tests, it will give the authorities, and clubs, the confidence that it will be safe to resume competitive games next month.

If everything goes to plan with contact training, a third vote, on a specific date, is expected in due course.

Read more here about the return of contact training and what it means for the Premier League season

Contingency plans to be discussed on Thursday

Thursday is another important day for the Premier League. That is when all other aspects of Project Restart will be discussed, including the league’s contingency plans on relegation, the issue of the use of points-per-game, and the award of the Premier League title, if the season has to be curtailed.

Analysis: 12 positive tests but 12 different people?

Analysis by Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News

“Four positive results out of just over 1,000 tests in the third round of testing only tells us half a story.

“There have been 12 positive results since testing has been published this month.

“But we don’t yet know whether these new results include any of the six people who tested positive in the first round and have since returned from seven days in self-isolation.

“The figure is still relatively low so will provide further cautious optimism for the Premier League, only hours after the significant decision was made to resume contact training.

The figure is still relatively low so will provide further cautious optimism for the Premier League, only hours after the significant decision was made to resume contact training.

Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News

“These latest results again demonstrate that coronavirus is not widespread in all 20 clubs at the moment, at least not among an average of 50 people tested per club in the third round.

“Crucially, there has been no cluster of positive results in one club.

“The fact there are four positive tests must be taken seriously and those individuals must self-isolate for seven days before they take a further COVID-19 test.

“They cannot attend the training ground and three clubs will want to establish what contact those individuals had with other people, in particular in the same household.

“In theory, they should have not have come into close contact with anyone outside their household since March, under the government’s social distancing rules.

“It is important to highlight there have been 2,740 negative results in the first three rounds, around 99.5 per cent.

“Up to 60 people from each club will now be tested from the next round, twice a week, in line with an agreement to resume contact training.

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RB Leipzig boss admits Werner is pondering future amid Liverpool interest

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann admits Timo Werner is considering his future as links with Liverpool continue.

The German striker has enjoyed his most impressive season to date scoring 30 times for the Bundesliga outfit.

Leipzig have again challenged for the title and made the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time.

Werner has been crucial to that success and has attracted Premier League interest with Liverpool thought to be heading the queue.

And Naglesmann is aware that the 24-year-old has a decision to make, but does not think it has been affecting his performances.

“He is in a good mood, feels good and trains well,” the Leipzig boss told SportBild.

“I do not have the impression that he is carrying a large cross with him. But he is a young guy who is sure to sit at home with his wife and ponder whether he will stay or change.

“When the question is in the room, you are always a little bit somewhere else. It was no different for me than when in Hoffenheim, it was about whether I go away.

“It is more obvious with strikers, because then there are phases in which they do not score.”

Werner scored a hat-trick at the weekend as Leipzig put five past Mainz.

That was a week after he'd failed to find the back of the net on the Bundesliga's return.

Liverpool themselves are considering adding more attacking players with speculation continuing over the futures of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Both have been linked with moves elsewhere which has led to the interest in Werner.

The German's style also lends itself to the system employed by Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

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Fins owner: NFL season will ‘definitely’ happen

  • Covered the Broncos for two seasons with the Denver Post
  • Graduate of the University of Houston
  • A native of Jackson, Miss.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is optimistic that the 2020 NFL season with go on as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic, and his current plan is that it will be with fans in the stands.

“I think there definitely will be a football season this year,” Ross said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC. “Real question is, will there be fans in the stadium? Right now — today — we’re planning to have fans in the stadium.”

The NFL hasn’t made any firm decisions on whether to allow fans into stadiums during the 2020 season, but the league released its schedule earlier this month and plans to play its full 16-game slate on time, starting Sept. 10.

“We all miss our sports,” Ross said. “The NFL, I think, will be ready to go. I know we’re all looking forward to it. I know I am.”

Earlier this month, Dolphins CEO/president Tom Garfinkel revealed mock-up plans for how the team could host a limited capacity of fans while adhering to social distancing in Hard Rock Stadium. The mock-up plan, to be featured if and when the NFL and government give clearance, could include 15,000 fans in the stadium, all attendees wearing masks, staggered entrances and exits and people ordering food from their seats.

The Dolphins have been proactive throughout the pandemic in creating plans for when football is ready to resume. Hard Rock Stadium became the first public facility to earn the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR accreditation, the standard used for facilities to implement cleaning, disinfecting and infectious disease prevention work practices to control risks involved with infectious agents like the coronavirus.

Ross noted again Tuesday that the Dolphins are “prepared” for scenarios with and without fans in the stands. The NFL began allowing teams to reopen facilities, if permitted by local guidelines, to limited staff on May 19.

Speaking as chairman of his real estate company Related, Ross said retail and hotel companies have been most affected by the pandemic but that he’s hopeful the economy and cities will start to bounce back.

“We all want to see life back to normal,” Ross said.

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Formula E driver Abt suspended by Audi for cheating in esports event

Daniel Abt has been suspended from the Audi Formula E team after cheating in a charity esports event at the weekend.

Abt was disqualified from the online race and ordered to pay €10,000 to charity after it emerged that he organised for a professional gamer to race under his name in the official esports race.

Abt later issued an apology, saying, “I did not take it as seriously as I should have.” His ringer, pro gamer Lorenz Hoerzing, was disqualified from all future rounds of the separate Challenge Grid competition. Rival drivers had been suspicious about Abt’s performance during the race, with Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne raising concerns on his Twitch feed.

On Tuesday, Audi issued a statement saying Abt had been suspended from his role in the team due to his actions.

“Daniel Abt did not drive his car in qualifying and the race at the fifth event of the Race at Home Challenge on May 23 himself, but let a professional sim-racer do so,” the Audi statement said. “He directly apologised for this on the following day and accepted the disqualification.

“Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules are top priorities for Audi — this applies to all activities the brand is involved in without exception. For this reason, Audi Sport has decided to suspend Daniel Abt with immediate effect.”

The Audi Formula E team is run by Audi tuning and motorsports specialists Abt Sportsline, which is owned by Abt’s father, Hans-Jurgen Abt.

Organisers of the official Formula E season are hoping to get the 2019-20 championship back underway in July.

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European Tour: Shane Lowry would only travel for Irish Open in 2020

Shane Lowry has admitted that he is unlikely to feature on the European Tour this year and that a rescheduled Irish Open would be his only appearance.

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The Champion Golfer of the Year has been based at his Florida home throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with Lowry set to play in seven of the first nine PGA Tour events when tournaments resume in America next month.

Tournament officials are hopeful that the Irish Open could be rescheduled for later in the year, having been postponed in its original May date, with Lowry expecting global travel restrictions to limit any chance of playing regularly on both tours.

“The way it is, especially with the quarantine on both sides, I don’t think it’d be physically possible for me (to go back to Europe),” Lowry told RTE 2FM’s Game On.

“The only tournament I would contemplate going back for was if there was an Irish Open put back on the schedule or something like that.

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“I haven’t seen a schedule from the European Tour so I can’t really tell but I’ll probably be mostly in America for the rest of the year.”

Lowry will be without regular caddie Bo Martin for the first few events back on the PGA Tour, with Darren Reynolds – Paul Dunne’s former bagman – temporarily taking over.

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Bundesliga predictions: Dortmund or Bayern? Alan McInally on Der Klassiker and other Super 6 games

Der Klassiker takes place on Tuesday, with four points separating Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Who is Alan McInally backing in the Bundesliga’s main event?

A win for Bayern Munich will take them seven points clear of their opponents on Tuesday, while a win for the home side will cut the gap to just one point, with only six games remaining. Who is Alan McInally backing for success, not only in this blockbuster, but the other Super 6 Bundesliga matches across the week?

  • Play Super 6 for free here.
  • Bundesliga table | results | fixtures

Follow live coverage of Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App on Tuesday; Kick-off at 5.30pm

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich (17/1 with Sky Bet)

Borussia Dortmund, with a 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg, looked pretty good. I didn’t think Wolfsburg gave them too many problems, but the same could be said about Frankfurt, who scored twice in quick succession to make it 3-2 against Bayern. Dortmund have started with 4-0 and 2-0 wins, while Bayern hit Frankfurt for five, so there is a not a lot between them.

The away teams are coping much better in this scenario than the home teams – we saw that at the weekend. Bayer Leverkusen won at Borussia Monchengladbach, Dortmund won at Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen registered a shock victory at Freiburg, Mainz won at Leipzig and Augsburg thumped Schalke on their home turf. It does not enhance the home side at all without the fans and so that could be an advantage for Bayern – there will not be 80,000 packed inside the Signal Iduna Park.

It is either going to finish 3-3 or the odd goal will make the difference. Bayern will extend the lead to seven points with what I am predicting. It will be a great game to watch and there are some real players to watch. If Dortmund did turn them over, you could see how, with the quality of players they have. Raphael Guerreiro, Erling Haaland and Julian Brandt have all been great. Even Jadon Sancho could make his first start since the break.

But I will side with Bayern. There is more pressure on Dortmund to win here. Even if they do, they go a point behind. I think both teams have real quality right across the park, but the experienced quality lies with Bayern and I think that may make the difference.

Key Battle

I think it has to be Alphonso Davies, who will definitely be up against Achraf Hakimi and potentially even Jadon Sancho down his flank. The pace between those three is phenomenal so it will be a good one to keep your eye on. Erling Haaland will be a real problem for Bayern’s defence; Jerome Boateng and David Alaba played at the back against Frankfurt.

Benjamin Pavard likes to get forward too down the right for Bayern, but then there may be Julian Brandt or Thorgan Hazard for him to contend with down their left, so it will be interesting. In the outside areas, to get the ball into the box will be pivotal and a real key area. Bayern will keep the ball and probably have more possession Dortmund will force them to play and try to hit on the counter. Bayern will have their work cut out, and Haaland going into every game thinking he will score won’t help. He may well do that.

Super 6: Der Klassiker!

Over 30 per cent of Super 6 players are siding with Alan Mcinally’s prediction of Dortmund 1-2 Bayern, leaving the away side with one hand firmly on the Bundesliga title. Who will you side with, as £50k is there for the taking. Play here for free.

Follow live coverage of Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App on Tuesday; Kick-off at 5.30pm

Werder Bremen 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach (10/1 with Sky Bet)

It was an unbelievable result for Werder Bremen at Freiburg, which will have given them a boatload of confidence. They will have to play even better than that here. Gladbach are a good team and I was disappointed by their performance against a team who are on their way up in the shape of Bayer Leverkusen.

Super 6: Gladbach to bounce back?

Despite a disappointing result at home to Leverkusen, 63 per cent of Super 6 entrants are siding with Borussia Monchengladbach, while 27 per cent are backing a 2-1 away win. Play here for free.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Wolfsburg (12/1 with Sky Bet)

Bayer Leverkusen were brilliant against Gladbach. Kai Havertz is truly the man who is up and coming in German football. He goes and scores two against third place in the Bundesliga, and was class again. I expected it to be more difficult against Gladbach, considering they have got one of the best defences in the league. The whole team were class. Wolfsburg did not play too badly at the weekend, but they did not look like they were going to trouble Dortmund.

Super 6: Another statement from Bayer?

A hefty 87 per cent of Super 6 competitors are hoping for another Bayer Leverkusen win, with 35 per cent of those predicting a 2-0 win. Could Kai Havertz be on the scoresheet once more? Play Super 6 for free here.

RB Leipzig 2-1 Hertha Berlin (8/1 with Sky Bet)

Apart from the big one, this is by far the game I am most looking forward to. Both teams are flying with goals. Bruno Labbadia has got off to a great start, and I like his attacking style of football. A 3-0 away win at Hoffenheim was followed up with a 4-0 win in the derby against Union Berlin. They seem to go through spells where they can score a few in a matter of minutes. This will be a much tougher game for Leipzig than it was against Mainz. Timo Werner has scored two hat-tricks against Mainz this campaign, and could add to his tally again here.

Super 6: End of the road for Hertha?

With seven goals and zero conceded from their last two, an away trip to RB Leipzig will be a different proposition. Only five per cent are giving Hertha Berlin a chance for the three points in this one. Will you too go against the grain, with £50k up for grabs? Play for free.

Hoffenheim 1-1 Cologne (13/2 with Sky Bet)

Hoffenheim have been so bad. A draw at Paderborn is simply not good enough. Looking at the table, they are in ninth, so despite their results, they are still in a decent position. Cologne squandered a lead and then managed to salvage a point against Fortuna Dusseldorf, by scoring two goals in around three minutes. This looks like it could be too close to call.

Super 6: Honours even?

With both sides taking a point from their last game, it is fitting that 27 per cent of Super 6 players are backing a 1-1 draw in this clash. Could one of these teams walk away with it? Have your say to land £50k here.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 2-0 Schalke (12/1 with Sky Bet)

I like what Uwe Rosler has done, but he will have been seething to have lost the lead like they did against Cologne. They did not manage to beat Paderborn either, but there is no way I can give Schalke another chance. David Wagner will want a response badly, but I cannot see them getting enough chances against Dusseldorf. Schalke will continue to frustrate themselves and their fans.

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Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace blasts EFL Board recommendation

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace says there is “absolutely no integrity whatsoever” in the EFL Board’s recommendation to finish the League Two season on a points-per-game basis.

League Two clubs voted to end the campaign earlier this month without clubs being relegated to the National League but the EFL, whose framework is still to be endorsed by the division, has described maintaining demotion as “integral to the integrity of the pyramid”.

  • Nev disappointed at PL stance on EFL ‘nightmare’
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Stevenage, who are three points behind Macclesfield at the bottom of League Two with a game in hand, face playing football in the National League next season.

Feedback from EFL clubs on the board’s framework for curtailment will be under review at this week’s board meeting on Wednesday.

“There is absolutely no integrity whatsoever in using a mathematical formula to expel a club from the EFL,” Wallace told Stevenage’s club website.

“That is unjust and wholly wrong. There is absolutely no integrity in allowing teams to play to win promotion, but not allowing teams in the same league to play to avoid relegation.

“There is no integrity in the EFL Board ignoring the overwhelming vote by League Two clubs that told them they didn’t want to see any expulsion from the EFL by a points per game formula.”

The board are expected to discuss how the framework could be written into EFL regulations, before a potential EGM is called for clubs to vote on any plans.

If it is passed, each division can then hold separate votes on whether to continue playing or to curtail the 2019-20 season based on the agreed framework.

Wallace suggests either playing the rest of the season or voiding it but removing the prospect of relegation, instead calling for more teams promoted from the National League.

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