Pro14: League plans for 22 August return with games between teams from same nation

The Pro14 hopes to return to play on 22 August with a series of behind closed doors matches.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) confirmed plans for their provinces to play a series of inter-provincial fixtures at the Aviva Stadium.

The league’s resumption will see teams from the same nation play against each other before the season is concluded via semi-finals and a final.

It is hoped that the 2020-21 campaign can begin in October.

  • Pro14 agrees CVC investment deal
  • Sanzaar & Six Nations teams in talks to plan out global rugby union calendar

With all professional rugby in Europe suspended since March, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said teams would need at least six weeks training before they are ready to play competitive matches.

It would therefore be expected that Pro14 clubs are back in some form of training by no later than 11 July.

The 2019-20 final, which was scheduled for 20 June has been cancelled, and currently no date has been revealed for a potential rescheduled final.

With the league encompassing teams from five nations, it cannot be assured that all clubs will be able to resume at the same time with countries releasing restrictions at different rates.

“At least if we have a target date set we can try and work towards it,” said Browne

“Otherwise we are just going to be chasing shadows.”

In a video meeting on Friday, Browne acknowledged that the IRFU’s ‘Return to Train and Play’ roadmap was dependent on government approval.

A return to rugby is listed under stage five as the Republic of Ireland’s own roadmap out of lockdown, which it is hoped will be reached on 10 August.

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Bristol Bears against plans to reduce £7m salary cap

‘Now is not the time to take a step back and stifle progress’: Bristol Bears owner Stephen Lansdown warns Premiership Rugby against plans to reduce £7m salary cap amid financial struggles cause by coronavirus 

  • Bristol Bears have made it clear they would oppose reducing the salary cap
  • West Country club are the richest in the Premiership, with an owner worth £2bn 
  • They have signed Kyle Sinckler and Fijian Semi Radradra for the next campaign
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bristol Bears have warned Premiership Rugby risks ‘stifling progress’ if plans to reduce the league’s £7m salary cap and scrap marquee player allowances go through.

The ambitious West Country side are the richest in the league with owner Stephen Lansdown worth around £2bn.

Amid speculation Premiership clubs are keen to bring down the salary cap, in the chaotic financial aftermath of coronavirus, and Lord Myners’ recent review into the pay ceiling – which suggested ‘marquee’ players whose salaries sit outside the limit should be binned – Lansdown outlined Bristol’s position.

Bristol Bears have warned Premiership Rugby risks ‘stifling progress’ if salary caps are reduced

The Bears will vehemently contend any moves to reduce spending.

That comes as no surprise as Pat Lam’s side have signed England prop Kyle Sinckler and Fijian superstar Semi Radradra for next season – both believed to be on £500,000-a-year deals – and have the highest paid player in the league, Charles Piutau on around a £900,000 salary.

In an open letter, Lansdown wrote: ‘To continue to drive the commercial growth of the game, we must keep the best players in the Premiership.

‘The right high-profile internationals encourage investment, appeal to new audiences and aid team performance. This challenging period should be used as an opportunity to reflect and explore how we can keep developing rugby through bold, innovative ideas.

‘Now is not the time to take a step back and stifle progress.

‘That is why we support the current salary cap. We believe the Premiership should foster and encourage ambition, while ensuring that clubs show financial prudence and planning.

Coach Pat Lam was already expecting new additions for next season before coronavirus hit 

‘In previous seasons, Bristol Bears have not spent up to the salary cap. Instead, we have made the right decisions – in recruitment and for the business – to ensure that we can be competitive while still meeting the Premiership’s salary requirements.

‘In addition, the club believe strongly in protecting the marquee rule. Not only do we have long term contractual obligations that we have planned and budgeted for, it’s difficult to compete at the highest level domestically and in Europe without the ability to recruit the best players.

‘The Premiership is the best rugby competition on the planet. Removing the best talent would dilute the appeal and impact on its ability to compete in the global market.

‘High quality rugby in front of large crowds breeds healthy competition and is only a good thing for the sport and its long-term sustainability.

‘With a world class training facility, stadium and young squad hungry for silverware, Bristol Bears want to continue to show ambition and to aspire to achieve great things.’

England forward Kyle Sinckler was one of the stars preparing to join on a £500,000 deal

As Premiership clubs lose around £50m a year between them, and are in various stages of financial meltdown having had next-to-no income since March, many clubs would be keen to reduce costs.

The biggest outlay clubs make is on player salaries, which have sky-rocketed in recent years.

Increasingly many view the combined £14m spent on the 24 current ‘marquee’ players such as Piutau as a grotesque and unsustainable overspend.

Any changes to spending regulations would need a majority vote in favour among the 13 Premiership Rugby Ltd shareholders – the 12 top-flight clubs and Newcastle Falcons.

But Bristol do not want to budge.

‘We have a clear vision,’ said Landsdown.

‘It’s on the walls of our building and underpins everything we do.

‘Our relentless ambition is to win trophies and dominate in Europe. We have a detailed, long-term strategy to achieve these goals and the wheels are already in motion.’




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F1 chief Carey reveals plans to start new season in Austria on July 5

‘We are confident with the progress of our plans to begin this summer’: Formula One CEO Chase Carey announces plans to salvage new season by starting in Austria on July 5 and finishing in December… just hours after French Grand Prix was called off

  • Formula One is planning to start its 2020 season on July 5 in Austria
  • The announcement comes after the French Grand Prix was called off on Monday
  • However, F1 chief Carey is optimistic racing will take place at the Red Bull Ring 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Formula One is planning to start its 2020 season on July 5 in Austria after the French Grand Prix became the 10th race this year to be postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to cancel the race at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet on June 28 seemed increasingly unavoidable after French President Emmanuel Macron placed a ban on mass gatherings in the country until at least mid-July.

But F1 chief Chase Carey is optimistic of beginning the campaign a week later at Austria’s Red Bull Ring and holding between 15 and 18 races before the curtain closer in Abu Dhabi in December.

Formula One has announced that it is planning to start its 2020 season on July 5 in Austria

July 5

Season starts: Austria

July-August

Races will be held across Europe

September-October

Eurasia and Asia will host races

October-November

Races take place in Asia and Americas

December

F1 calendar finishes in Middle East 

Carey, though, does anticipate the first few races to be held behind closed doors, with the British Grand Prix telling its fans on Monday morning that its event on July 19 will be held without spectators.

Carey said on Formula One’s website: ‘Although this morning it was announced that the French Grand Prix, due to take place in late June, will not be going ahead, we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer.

‘We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July weekend.

‘September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.

‘We will publish our finalised calendar as soon as we possibly can. All of our plans are obviously subject to change as we still have many issues to address and all of us are subject to the unknowns of the virus.

F1 chief Chase Carey is optimistic racing will take place at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in July

‘We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule.

‘We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.

‘The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.’

While a number of events have been postponed, French Grand Prix managing director Eric Boullier said his focus is already on next year’s race.

He said: ‘Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event.

‘The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France – Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more unprecedented event at the heart of the Region Sud.’

For the moment, the British Grand Prix will go ahead but Silverstone’s owners said that a race ‘under normal conditions is just not going to be possible’ in announcing a decision to keep supporters away from the event.

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said in a letter: ‘I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone.

The announcement came hours after the French Grand Prix was called off on Monday

F1 RACES POSTPONED SO FAR 

‘We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the Government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a grand prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.

‘Our obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event, our volunteer marshals and race makers, and of course, you, the amazing fans, means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make.

‘We have consistently said that should we find ourselves in this position we will support Formula One as they seek to find alternative ways to enable F1 racing to take place this year.

‘Following this weekend’s news from the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport we are now working with them on the viability of an event behind closed doors.’

To date three Grands Prix have been cancelled – Australian, Monaco, French – and seven postponed – Bahrain, Vietnam, Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, Azerbaijan, Canadian.




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Plans to complete Premier League season at neutral 'hubs' gain support

Plans to complete Premier League season at neutral ‘hubs’ behind closed doors gain support with stadiums in the south, Midlands and north ready to host top-flight matches to minimise coronavirus risk

  • The Premier League is planning for its return amid the coronavirus crisis
  • There are concerns that hosting matches at original venues will be impossible
  • Restrictions are likely to remain in place because of the global pandemic
  • Designated stadiums in the south, Midlands and north would host games
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

It is increasingly likely that what is left of the Premier League season will be played at neutral venues behind closed doors, should football return.

There are concerns that hosting matches at the original venues might be logistically impossible when some restrictions are likely to remain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, designated stadiums in the south, Midlands and north would host games to minimise travel for staff, TV crews and medical teams.

The FA have offered the use of Wembley as a neutral hub for Premier League matches

The FA have offered the use of Wembley and St George’s Park, and other sites are being considered. Multiple matches could be played on the same day at one venue.

There are also concerns that should matches be played at the original venues, supporters would turn up.

Police forces are unlikely to be in a position to deploy the numbers needed to ensure that fans are kept away from stadiums.

There are concerns that hosting matches at original venues might be logistically impossible

Whether football does return remains to be seen. Privately, some top-flight clubs believe there is very little chance of the campaign being completed and they have growing confidence that broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport would not attempt to claw back the £370million owed for outstanding matches. 

The FA are considering completing the Women’s Super League at neutral venues and other sports, including cricket, are examining similar plans.

Old Trafford and Southampton’s Ageas Bowl — each of which has an on-site hotel — are being considered to host England cricket matches.

Sources say the ECB will hold a board meeting this week to discuss up to five different plans.

Some top-flight clubs believe there is very little chance of the campaign being completed


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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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Nou Camp revamp plans shelved for Barcelona amid coronavirus crisis

Barcelona’s dream of a £615million revamp of the Nou Camp is in TATTERS as the Catalans’ cash dries up and players are told to take pay cuts as coronavirus stops all sport in Spain

  • Barcelona likely to have to scale down their plans for their Nou Camp stadium
  • Spanish champions have been forced to reduce their budget amid coronavirus
  • Redeveloping the 100,000 Nou Camp has been club’s dream for some time
  • Plans for a £615m Espai Barca development drawn up in recent years
  • It was meant to be completed next year but construction work hasn’t started
  • Now with football in lockdown, it appears destined never to come to fruition  

Barcelona are likely to scale-down their planned £615million revamp of the Camp Nou as part of major economic belt-tightening post coronavirus crisis. 

‘Espai Barça’ was originally meant to be completed next year but, as things stand, it looks unlikely to even properly start. 

The club might even have to go back to plans first drawn up 13 years ago for a stadium-only renovation at around a third of the cost. 

Sportsmail looks at Barcelona’s continually frustrated attempts to construct a new Camp Nou.

Barcelona have long planned to extensively renovate their iconic Nou Camp stadium  

The planned redevelopment of the near-100,000 capacity stadium would cost 700m euros

When Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu steps down, either at the end of this season or, more likely, at the end of next, he will do so without having seen the first brick laid on the long awaited redevelopment of the Camp Nou. 

He will not be the first club president in that position.

In 2007 Joan Laporta was in the hot-seat and he unveiled his model of the new stadium designed by British architect Norman Foster and inspired by Antoni Gaudi. 

The 240m euros (£215m today) project was meant to begin in 2009 but when Laporta stepped down in 2010 work had not begun and the new board decided the plan was not for them.

Thirteen years later with Laporta’s successor Sandro Rosell also gone, Bartomeu finds himself in charge of bringing the club up to date. 

The Espai Barca project was meant to have been completed next year but there are no signs of cranes or construction amid the coronavirus shutdown as the plans are revised 

The renovation of the stadium was the centrepiece of a wider Espai Barca development  

But his 700m euros Espai Barça project needed the reaffirmation of the club’s members this month, and when the planned referendum was cancelled because of the coronavirus the brakes slammed back on a project that seems doomed never to be completed.

The remodelling of the famous old ground – Barcelona’s home since 1957 – has always seemed to many to be too expensive and simply not the priority. 

Laporta was, in part, sidetracked by the fading fortunes of the team on the pitch. He concentrated his resources on rebuilding the team on the pitch.

The financial crisis hit hard in 2008 and when Rosell eventually replaced Laporta he, along with his board on which Bartomeu sat, decided that simply rebuilding a new Camp Nou was a missed opportunity. 

Lionel Messi is increasingly unlikely to plan in a revamped Nou Camp as the project is delayed

The enormous bowl of the Nou Camp as it looks today, with room for just under 100,000 fans

Barca fans create a colourful display ahead of last season’s European semi-final with Liverpool

‘Espai Barça’ [Barça Space] was an altogether grander scheme conceived to incorporate not just a new stadium but plans to revamp the surrounding areas inviting in new commercial partners and building a new indoor sports arena for the club’s other sports teams. The first cost estimate came in at 600m euros.

The idea was that 200m euros would be paid for by a naming-rights sponsor; a further 200m euros would be paid for by the club taking out a loan; and the third 200m euros from those future commercial partners.

Over 70 per cent of supporters backed the plan in 2014 in a referendum called by Bartomeu who by this time had replaced Rosell as president. Work was now due to start in 2017.

When Sportsmail interviewed Bartomeu in 2019, from his offices next to the stadium he looked proudly across Aristides Maillol street at work beginning on knocking down the old Miniestadi.

How the exterior of the redeveloped Nou Camp would look if the project actually happens 

Barcelona planned to raise the money through loans and sponsorship but the cost is spiralling 

That demolition was completed and last year the club unveiled the impressive new B-team 6,000 capacity Johan Cruyff Estadi at its out of town Joan Gamper training complex. 

But back at the home of the first team there is no sign of progress beyond the site where the old Miniestadi once stood.

This month’s referendum was designed to give members the chance to rethink their backing for a proposal that will no longer cost 600m. 

The expected price is now at 700m and rising, Diario Sport quoted 800m at the weekend. And, as of yet, there is still no confirmed naming rights partner to provide 200m euros of that money.

As football blinks into a post-coronavirus world, whenever that might be; Barcelona could find themselves in any number of financial scenarios. 

They might have the television rights money safely in the bank having reset the fixtures-calendar enabling them to finish the season.

The Nou Camp has long been the scene of protests in favour of Catalan independence 

Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to become the latest Barcelona president to be disappointed 

If that’s the case their biggest problems will be recouping lost revenue from ticket sales, stadium visits and club merchandising, particularly if the season restarts without spectators. 

But if the season cannot be restarted at all, there could be an even bigger hole in the finances.

Either way, they are not going to meet their projected income for this season, set at just over a billion euros last September.

Things have changed and the redevelopment of one of the most emblematic football stadiums in the world cannot go ahead without a major rethink … and quite possibly, a sizeable reduction in budget. 

From 2007 to 2020 the wait for a new Camp Nou goes on. The original plan from 13 years ago to first concentrate on rebuilding just the arena where the first team plays football might have to be put back on the table.

 


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