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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Livingston keeper Gary Maley to donate wages to charity after joke poll

A light-hearted Twitter poll allowing fans to decide whether Livingston should give their third-choice goalkeeper a new contract has ended up raising money for a children’s charity.

With a regular job at a civil engineering company, and the COVID-19 pandemic making it a difficult time for clubs, 37-year-old part-timer Gary Maley had offered to stand down, so his salary could pay for a younger player.

But the Scottish Premiership club decided instead to “put it in the hands of fans”, regarding whether to offer ‘Stretch’ an extension.

📋| Quite possibly a football first but we’re giving you the chance to decide on the future of goalkeeper @Maley1Gary.

With his contract expiring next month, we’re leaving it in the hands of the fans as to whether or not we offer “Stretch” an extension.

Stay or go – you decide!

“Stay or go – you decide!” the poll declared.

Assistant manager David Martindale, best man at the goalkeeper’s wedding, joined in by promising a pound to charity for every vote – only to find more than 190,000 votes had been cast by Wednesday!

Some fans expressed shock that the club would put a player’s future out to a vote – but Maley has confirmed he was in on the stunt.

It’s time to hang your gloves up big fella, you had a good run at it. Scott McDonald penalty save at Tannadice a glorious high in your career, the only high tbf. Take care but we have to move on 👍🏻👍🏻⚽️⚽️

He is a contracts director for civil engineering firm GGK Contracts and said: “Davie (Martindale) told me to come and look at a couple of issues that I could get my guys to fix with the drainage in the dressing room.

“He mentioned my contract and I said ‘look, give it to one of the kids, I am 37, I am nearly done’.

“He said ‘we will have a bit of fun with it, have a laugh, we will put up a vote on Twitter’.

“Davie said he would put a pound in per vote for charity, thinking we would get 500 votes.

“Obviously it escalated something ridiculous and Davie soon withdraw that offer!

“It was really meant as a joke and a bit of fun. I am part-time at football, it’s something I enjoy but I have a day job.

“It looks as though I’m going to win the vote and extend my deal but I said I will donate the next two months’ wages to charity and Davie will match that.

“It is all for a good cause. It is for the John O’Byrne Foundation, which helps really ill children.

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Belgian GP 1995 Watchalong: Michael Schumacher vs Damon Hill at wet Spa

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2VRq9BZwAV8%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Don’t miss the latest Sky F1 Watchalong on Wednesday evening as we transport you back to the midst of one the fiercest rivalries in the sport’s history and a controversial, topsy-turvy battle around arguably its best circuit, in the toughest of wet conditions.

It’s the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix from Spa-Francorchamps where Michael Schumacher made history by winning from 16th on the grid, Damon Hill was angered by his great rival’s defensive driving, and Martin Brundle finished on the podium for outsiders Ligier.

  • The latest edition of The Notebook

Hill, Brundle and Johnny Herbert – Schumacher’s Benetton team-mate that day who led the race’s early stages – are reunited to watch back the best (and, in some of their cases, worst) moments from an unforgettable afternoon, with fellow Sky F1 colleague David Croft.

Does Damon still hold the same opinion of Schumacher’s driving a quarter of a century on? How did Johnny go from the lead to seventh place? And just how difficult was it to drive the undulating and fast 4.4-mile circuit in the wet?

Watch along with the Sky F1 team on Sky F1, YouTube, Facebook, and on this page from 7.30pm

The background to a tense race day

Schumacher, F1’s defending champion, held a reduced 11-point lead over big rival Hill going into the race, the 11th round of the 16-race season.

Hill had halved his title deficit at the previous race in Hungary when the Williams driver’s third win of the year had coincided with a rare race retirement for Schumacher and Benetton.

But the Englishman, already enduring a turbulent year on the track, still had it all on to overcome Schumacher and exact revenge on losing out on the title at the last race in the controversial finish to 1994.

But the cards seemed to be falling in Hill’s favour at Spa, as although he qualified only eighth in wet conditions of qualifying, he was still eight places ahead of Schumacher – whose Saturday never got going after a crash in second practice, which was followed by technical problems with his car.

Schumacher therefore started 16th – he had never previously qualified outside the top 10 in F1, while no one had ever won at Spa from lower than 12th on the grid.

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Sebastian Vettel tipped to cause Lewis Hamilton ‘commotion’ if one thing happens

Sebastian Vettel has been continuously linked with a switch to Mercedes for the 2021 F1 season after he announced he would be leaving Ferrari. With most other seats taken, Vettel could end up alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes have yet to extend Hamilton’s contract and there remain questions over what Valtteri Bottas will do next season.

Vettel has all the credentials needed to driver for the reigning world champions.

But Nick Heidfeld believes it would be unrealistic for the current Ferrari ace to end up at the Silver Arrows.

“It is a shame, but going to Mercedes is not realistic,” he told Sky in Germany.

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“It is interesting to hear that Toto Wolff analyses the qualities and not the nationality.

“A German team, of course, would like to have Vettel for marketing, but in my opinion Hamilton and Vettel will never be able to share a team.”

Heidfeld believes nobody would get anything out of Vettel and Hamilton teaming up at Mercedes.

He added: “No one would benefit from the signing of Vettel by Mercedes.

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“He would go to a team that is completely in the hands of Hamilton, who is also in top form.

“It is not ideal for Vettel, but it would not be good for Hamilton to have such a team-mate either.

“Mercedes wouldn’t want the two to be together either. That causes a lot of commotion and I just don’t see what’s going to happen.

“But we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I haven’t talked to Vettel, so I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

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  • Sebastian Vettel tipped to announce F1 retirement if one thing happens

Vettel is a four-time F1 world champion but there are a lack of options for him on the grid.

Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point all look set on their driver line-ups for next season.

There is a vacancy at Renault following the announcement Daniel Ricciardo will replace Carlos Sainz at McLaren with the Spaniard taking Vettel’s seat at Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso has been linked with a return to the sport with Renault his most likely option.

That could mean Vettel either joins Mercedes or is forced to leave the sport for 2021 and possible end his career altogether.

F1 is currently tentatively scheduled to start in July with two races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

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Newcastle star urged to snub transfer amid £300m takeover and spending spree

Newcastle star Jonjo Shelvey has been urged to snub a move away from St James’ Park by Paul Robinson. The former Premier League goalkeeper says the midfielder could be part of something special at Newcastle as their £300m takeover draws closer.

Shelvey has been linked with a switch to West Ham ahead of the summer transfer window.

Hammers boss David Moyes is said to be an admirer of the 28-year-old.

However, Robinson says Shelvey should stay put with Newcastle’s takeover drawing closer.

When asked whether Shelvey should join West Ham, Robinson told Football Insider: “I think it could be a great time to be part of things at Newcastle. He should at least give himself the opportunity to be part of things.

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“West Ham’s future is far from sealed at the moment. If the league is to be restarted they have got a real perilous set of fixtures.

“If they were to be relegated then it is a different proposition for Jonjo Shelvey.

“Does he want to be part of a Newcastle that are heading in the right direction if the takeover was to happen or does he want to end up in the Championship with West Ham?

“It will be very dependent on the end of the season.”

Newcastle fans are hoping their £300m takeover is completed in the coming days.

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Toon owner Mike Ashley has agreed to sell the club to PCP Capital Partners, an organisation backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

However, it emerged on Tuesday night that a new court ruling could scupper the deal.

The World Trade Organisation ruled Saudi Arabia is behind a pirate satellite TV and streaming service, leaving the takeover in jeopardy.

They ruled the Saudi government is behind beoutQ, which offers illegal streams to sporting events, including Premier League games.

The likes of Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League, La Liga have tried to take action against beoutQ, however, the copyright cases were unsuccessful.

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Following the claims, a subsequent case was taken to the WTO, who ruled Saudi Arabia is in breach of international law.

The ruling could see Newcastle’s proposed new owners fail the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test.

Newcastle were tipped to splash the cash in the summer transfer window if their takeover was completed.

The Toon had been backed to sign Barcelona ace Philippe Coutinho, Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.

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Chelsea ace Christian Pulisic sent Lukaku, De Bruyne, Salah message over Blues future

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic could follow in the footsteps of Romelu Lukaku, Mohamed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne by walking away from Stamford Bridge in order to play consistent first-team football and continue his development. That’s the opinion of ex-USA international Herculez Gomez, who thinks Pulisic will have to fight for “everything” at Chelsea.

Pulisic had a mixed time during his first season at Stamford Bridge following his £57million move from Borussia Dortmund.

The young American made 16 appearances in the Premier League and had a decent spell in the starting XI before a muscle injury ended his campaign.

He was played primarily on either wing supporting lone striker Tammy Abraham, and popped up with four goals and two assists.

The Blues aren’t short of options out wide, and added to their attacking reinforcements by signing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax.

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And Gomez indicated that Pulisic could become the latest player to leave Chelsea after growing frustrated over a lack of playing time.

Lukaku, Salah and De Bruyne all left the club at an early age to get first-team football before becoming top players, and the ex-America striker hinted Pulisic could be next.

Speaking on ESPN FC, he said: “This is just life at a big club.

“Just to throw out some names you’ve got Lukaku, Salah, Kevin de Bruyne, Higuain, they’ve all made some sort of stop at Chelsea and then you’re gone.

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“If you can’t produce in that half-season or whatever they give you, that’s it and it’s on to the next. That’s life at a big club.

“If I’m Christian Pulisic, I’d never get comfortable, I have to fight for everything.”

However, ex-Chelsea player Craig Burley insisted that Pulisic will be a big part of Frank Lampard’s plans for next season.

He added: “I think they like him a lot and have seen glimpses.

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“But ultimately they want to see him over a full season.

“Frank Lampard didn’t pay a lot of money for him, it was the board who paid a lot of money for him. Lampard just inherited him.

“I think Lampard gave him ample opportunities after a slow start, and I think he saw glimpses of what Pulisic can do.

“I think Pulisic will play a big part next season, but he’ll have competition for places.”

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Boxing news: Mike Tyson announcement, Tyson Fury’s Anthony Joshua warning, BJS on Canelo

Boxing news – Mike Tyson gives update on comeback fight

Former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has revealed he expects to finalise his comeback fight by the end of the week.

“Na, na we got many guys,” he said. “Listen we’ve got so many guys that want to do this man.

“We’re in calls, we’re doing business with guys right now.

“You’re not going to believe the names when the names come out. Sometime this week we’ll have the contract done.

“And whatever money we get, it’s going to somebody else.

“I’m not going to make any money, probably the company, my wife because she’s partners with me, she’ll make some probably. But my money is going.”

Boxing news – Tyson Fury issues Anthony Joshua fight warning

Sometime this week we’ll have the contract done

Mike Tyson on his comeback fight

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has insisted Deontay Wilder can still throw a spanner into the works of his proposed unification fight with Anthony Joshua.

“What happens if I get sparked out by Wilder in the rematch?” Fury asked during an interview with Sky Sports.

“If lockdown finishes and we get a vaccine and the world gets back to normal I can see two fights with Joshua next year.

“Assuming I get past Wilder, which is not a given.”

Boxing news – Billy Joe Saunders discusses Canelo fight

WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders is adamant he has the tools to dethrone unified middleweight king Canelo Alvarez.

“I believe I have the tools to beat him,” Saunders said during an appearance on Talk the Talk with Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew.

“He is an exceptionally great fighter one of the best, but to be the best you have to beat these types of people. He is the cash cow, the big man, everybody in boxing knows him. He is the man I would love to beat.”

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Ianis Hagi: Rangers close to permanent deal for Romanian midfielder

Rangers are closing in on a deal to sign Ianis Hagi from Genk on a permanent basis, and could complete his signing within the next 24 hours.

Genk claimed a permanent deal had been completed on Tuesday evening, before deleting the statement from their website.

The Romanian midfielder joined Rangers on loan in January, with Steven Gerrard’s side having an option to buy.

Despite Genk originally wanting around £4.5m for Hagi, the proposed deal will see Rangers pay £3m in instalments across three seasons.

Hagi scored three goals in 12 appearances for Rangers before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season.

Last week, Rangers confirmed the summer departure of six players, including popular midfielder Andy Halliday and former Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan.

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Christian Mbulu dead: Morecambe defender dies suddenly aged 23

Morecambe defender Christian Mbulu has tragically died at the age of 23. Mbulu joined Morecambe after being released by Crewe Alexandra in January. The defender, who also had spells at Millwall and Motherwell, made three appearances for the League Two outfit this season.

Mbulu’s former Millwall team-mate Ben Thompson confirmed the tragic news on his Instagram on Tuesday evening.

On his Instagram story, Thompson wrote: “Lost for words. RIP brother.”

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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Coronavirus: Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid and Cheltenham Festival ‘led to spike’ in coronavirus deaths

Liverpool’s Champions League home match against Atletico Madrid and the Cheltenham Festival contributed to an increase in coronavirus deaths in the UK, a scientist has said.

Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said the two events held in March had “caused increased suffering and death that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred”.

He said data from an app used to report COVID-19 symptoms showed that Cheltenham and the North West both became “key hotspots” for the coronavirus.

Despite several European countries and cities already being in lockdown by the time the sports fixtures took place, Prime Minister Boris Johnson waited until 23 March to announce his own “stay at home” message in the UK.

More than 251,000 people attended the Cheltenham Festival from March 16-19 this year – a drop of nearly 15,000 compared to 2019.

Liverpool’s exit from the last-16 of the Champions League on March 11 was watched by around 52,000 people inside Anfield, including 3,000 visiting supporters who had travelled from Madrid – where such events had already been suspended.

By the time Mr Johnson ordered the lockdown, the number of coronavirus cases in the UK stood at 6,650 and the number of deaths was 336.

Since then, nearly 37,000 people have died in the UK after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, and there have been more than 262,000 cases.

Last month, Liverpool City Council announced plans to jointly investigate the spread of the virus in Merseyside, alongside the University of Liverpool and John Moores University, following the match.

Professor Spector, who works in genetic epidemiology research, said: “Two weeks after the Cheltenham Festival and the Liverpool game against Atletico Madrid, we saw the number of people reporting COVID symptoms in the COVID Symptom Study app from those particular areas increase and both areas became key hotspots in the UK.

“This suggests that both events were, in part, a cause for the spread of COVID-19 in those areas.”

Data from the Kings College study shows a higher number of cases in Cheltenham and Liverpool compared to their surrounding areas from 22 March to 29 March.

Liverpool City Council’s director of public health Matthew Ashton is convinced the game against Atletico Madrid should not have gone ahead.

But the government believes the events took place within “clear guidance” given at the time.

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