How will the Premier League season end if Project Restart fails?

Premier League clubs will vote today on how to end the season if Project Restart is derailed… so who are the winners and losers of a PPG system? Who needs to fear relegation the most? And which outcome sees Liverpool NOT win the title?

  • Project Restart entered phase two with clubs steadily holding contact training
  • Clubs are planning to resume the season but alternative plans must be in place
  • Each contingency plan could have a different impacts on clubs in the standings 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Premier League clubs are voting on Thursday for an official plan on how to conclude the 2019-20 campaign.

On Wednesday, Premier League clubs unanimously approved to enter stage two of Project Restart, which allows contact training between players.

Later on Wednesday, Premier League clubs returned just four positive coronavirus tests from over a thousand that were carried out in what is further encouraging news.

Premier League clubs are assessing alternatives to end the season if Project Restart falls short

The Premier League is hopeful of resuming behind closed doors like the German Bundesliga

The latest instalment in what is proving to be an integral week for Project Restart will come on Thursday when clubs vote on how to end the 2019-20 season.

England’s top tier is very much looking to follow the example of the Bundesliga and resume its season as soon as it is safe to do so, but there are other examples, both at home and abroad, that they could follow if that ends up not being possible. 

There are a number of options that have varying impacts on club – one route would stop Liverpool from seemingly inevitably being crowned champions while, almost all would cause havoc with relegation. Sportsmail assesses the choices. 

PLAY IT OUT

This is what is being worked towards at the moment and is coming closer each day due to Project Restart.

After Wednesday’s vote, clubs will tentatively begin contact training in small groups before those numbers gradually expand.

Clubs are aiming for a restart date in June. June 12 was first mooted but it is becoming increasingly unlikely that it will be then.

A vote on Wednesday to resume contact training was a step forward to resuming the season

Clubs will vote on Thursday, June 4, over when to restart. Friday June 19 and Friday June 26 are the new start-dates under consideration, with seemingly most approval in place for June 26. 

The other options on the table are, it seems, to provide a safety net if the season is unable to be completed. 

POINTS PER GAME

There are two ways that a points per game system can end the season.

The first, and most simple way, would see clubs ranked using the average points they have taken from the games they have already played.

So, for example, Liverpool would top the standings with an average of 2.83 points. It is how Ligue 1 in France has been settled. The only changes it would bring in the current standings would see Sheffield United finish above Wolves and Arsenal would overtake Tottenham.

A simple Points-Per-Game plan would see Sheffield United finish higher than Wolves

A weighted points-per-game system has been ruled out by the EFL and it is expected that the Premier League will follow suit. That will come as relief for West Ham, who would have fallen into the bottom three with a system that would factor in home and away form.

In League Two, they voted to end their season because they would struggle to pay for coronavirus tests. A weighted points-per-game method there would have seen Swindon replace Crewe in first place but at present, the EFL prefers an unweighted method.

A solid proposal for how the standings are confirmed is yet to be ratified. But League Two want promotion to still be in play, so clubs such as Colchester, Northampton and Cheltenham plan to resume group training next week to prepare for play-offs.

The more complex Points-Per-Game scenario would see Bournemouth escape from the drop

END THE SEASON AS IT IS

Perhaps the costliest option is to freeze the standings and set them in stone at the current point.

The biggest impact would come at the foot of the table, where four points split Aston Villa, in 19th, and Brighton, in 15th. 

Last place Norwich are six points adrift but have home games to go against Brighton, Southampton, Everton, West Ham and Burnley, so have a fair argument in suggesting they can play their way out of trouble.

Aston Villa are 19th in the Premier League but are only four points off 15th place Brighton

Brighton, at present, are in a strong position but they have some difficult games remaining

On the other hand, Brighton still have home games to come against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, as well as a trip away to Leicester, so could feasibly be dragged right back into the bottom three.

With the millions involved regarding retaining Premier League status and Championship status, a freeze in the standings would be highly likely to spark a legal row between clubs who would drop out of England’s top tier.

NULL AND VOID

The least likely option, but one that has been used elsewhere in Europe, would see the 2019-20 season wiped.

In Holland, the Eredivisie was ruled Null and Void with no champions and no relegation and it caused uproar. Ajax were level on points with AZ Alkmaar at the top of the Dutch league while at the bottom, there were reprieves for ADO Den Haag and RKC Waalwijk.  

Leaving the season Null and Void would have a big impact on Championship sides like Leeds

Furthermore, in the second tier, Cambuur were 11 points clear at the top of the league and seemingly destined for promotion. Their manager, Henk de Jong, labelled the decision ‘the greatest shame in the history of Dutch sport’.

So if, and it remains extremely unlikely but if, the season is curtailed and cancelled, Leeds and West Brom could find themselves in a similar position to Cambuur. 

Cambuur and De Graafschap, who were second in the second tier, have launched legal proceedings against the Dutch FA and that is something that would be unsurprising to see in this case – a big reason why for all concerned, it is the least likely option.




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Liverpool 'will not pursue Timo Werner and have withdrawn from talks'

Liverpool ‘will NOT pursue Timo Werner and have withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig’s star striker… with club not willing to go above £30m given current financial uncertainty’

  • Timo Werner has a release clause at Red Bull Leipzig in the £50m region 
  • But Liverpool now value Werner at nearer to £30m due to the current climate 
  • As a result, the Reds will reportedly not pursue the 24-year-old this summer
  • Werner has previously spoken of his admiration for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Liverpool have reportedly withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner, due to a difference in valuation of the player. 

The 24-year-old, who has been one of Europe’s leading marksman this season, has a release clause in the £50m region.

However, due to the current financial instability caused by the coronavirus crisis, the Reds now value him at less than £30m in the market and due to the difference in price-range, Jurgen Klopp’s side won’t be pursuing Werner, according to The Mirror. 

Liverpool have reportedly withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has held an interest in Werner but will not pursue the German

Statistics in all competitions according to Transfermarkt 

The report details that despite Klopp showing interest in working with the Germany international, and vice-versa, the transfer market has been flipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on football.

Liverpool do, according to the report, have a good relationship with RB Leipzig, but the difference of £20m plus in their valuations of Werner means a deal will not be reached in the coming months. 

On Wednesday night, Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said as much: ‘It [Leipzig’s valuation of Werner] won’t get any cheaper. We will not sell a player below value if he is under contract for more than a year. 

RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff insists the club won’t sell Werner for anything less than £50m

‘In general, we always ask the question: can we replace a player if we sell him for less than his market value?’

The Reds have held a longstanding interest in the striker, who has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season. 

Werner, who recently labelled Klopp ‘the best coach in the world’, can now see out the remaining two years of his contract at the Red Bull Arena, or look for a move elsewhere – though Anfield was said to be his preferred destination. 

Werner is an out and out goalscorer and has netted 30 times for RB Leipzig this season

Inter Milan and Barcelona are also keeping an eye on Werner’s situation, though they too know business will be different this summer due to the pause of football and the affect this has had financially on clubs across Europe.  

Despite this news, Liverpool remain stocked with attacking talent, with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri backups to lethal forward trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. 

Werner, meanwhile, failed to find the back of the net in Leipzig’s 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday, after scoring a hat-trick at the weekend against Mainz. 

Liverpool’s Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been lethal in the past few years




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Sergio Aguero will complete his contract but will reassess after that

‘There’s no chance of him leaving before 2021’: Sergio Aguero will see out his Manchester City contract… but agent admits he will have to ‘see what happens after that’

  • Sergio Aguero will not leave Manchester City before his contract expires in 2021
  • Aguero’s agent Hernan Reguera has said they ‘will see what happens after that’
  • Napoli, Juventus and Inter Milan are among a host of clubs looking to sign him
  • As all time top goal-scorer, he has scored 23 goals in 30 games this season

Sergio Aguero will not leave Manchester City before 2021 as he plans to see out the rest of his contract, despite interest from Napoli, Juventus and Inter Milan. 

The Argentine’s contract at the Etihad Stadium runs out in June next year after signing a one-year extension in 2018.

His agent Hernan Reguera has confirmed that ‘there no chance of him leaving before that’ but suggests that a possible move in the future could be on the cards, as he yet to commit his future with the club.

Sergio Aguero will not leave Manchester City before his contract expires in the summer 2021

‘Sergio has a contract with Manchester City until 2021, and there is no chance of him leaving before that,’ agent Hernan Reguera told FCInterNews.it.

‘We’ll see what happens after that. I haven’t spoken to Inter, and the reason is very simple: Aguero is happy with the Citizens and has no intention of changing club.’

With City’s all-time top goal scorer close to having just 12 months left on his deal, interest from European giants has been flooding in.

Inter see Aguero as a possible replacement for Lautaro Martinez, while Napoli may look to sign the Argentine striker instead of Mauro Icardi.

The 31-year-old has helped City win four Premier League titles and last season’s FA Cup

Speaking previously, Aguero revealed he is not ruling out a transfer but insists he is still happy in Manchester and still has ambitions to win the Champions League with Pep Guardiola’s men.

Aguero has scored 23 goals in 30 competitive games for Manchester City this season.

The 31-year-old has helped City win four Premier League titles and last season’s FA Cup after joining the club from La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid in 2011, following five years in the Spanish capital.




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How the Premier League will be kitted out next season

Liverpool’s huge £70m Nike contract gives them the top deal to match their team, Everton are keeping it retro with cult classic Hummel… but will new pretenders like Castore snap any clubs going free? How the Premier League will be kitted out next season

  • Liverpool will be wearing Nike next season after sealing a record-breaking deal 
  • After legal battle with New Balance, a £70m-a-year agreement will go through
  • Everton have also struck a new partner, having swapped Umbro for Hummel 
  • Newcastle and Watford are both currently without a kit deal for 2020-21 season 

Liverpool will start next season in Nike shirts thanks to the biggest kit deal in Premier League history in the latest indication of a powershift at the top of the English game.

Having been given the green light after winning their court battle against New Balance, their £70m-a-year deal will commence this summer, trumping the current biggest agreement held between Manchester United and Adidas.

It is the surest sign yet that the tide is turning with regard to commercial appeal in the top flight, but it is not just at the top where clubs are improving their income through kit manufacturers.

Liverpool stars are set to be kitted out in Nike next season after the club struck a record deal

On the other side of Merseyside Everton have announced their next venture, swapping Umbro for Hummel and a £10m-a-year contract.

‘It is really important that we drive maximum value from our commercial deals and this is a Club-record deal for a technical partnership for Everton,’ said Denise Barret-Baxendale, the chief executive, emphasising the significance of their deal.

It makes the Toffees the first club outside of the traditional Big Six to reach eight figures a season for their manufacturer contract.

Everton will also  be wearing a new manufacturer, after swapping Umbro for Hummel

Despite that, they are still some way off catching up with the division’s leaders.

Manchester United, who held the record until Liverpool’s groundbreaking deal, still command £75m a season from their contract with adidas. That deal is in place until 2025.

Behind them are rivals Manchester City, with the reigning Premier League champions’ deal with Puma worth £65m a year in a partnership that will continue up until 2029.

With the Reds deal with Nike, City will be the only team in the Big Six next campaign to not have a contract in place with neither the American brand or adidas.

Manchester United’s deal with adidas had previously been the most expensive in the league

Manchester City are one of the top earners, with their Puma deal worth £65million a year

Nike will still have their deals in place with both Chelsea and Tottenham, the former holding an agreement until 2032 worth £60m each term, while the latter’s is worth £30m, going up until 2033.

Arsenal’s £60m-a-year contract with adidas runs up until 2024.

With so many long-term deals in place, there is little room for competition to disrupt the monopoly held by the two sports manufacturing giants at the top of the Premier League.

It creates an interesting conundrum for the likes of Castore, a luxury sports brand that has set its sights on challenging Nike and adidas in arenas such as England’s top flight.

Castore founders Tom (left) and Phil Beahon (right) have stated their ambition to work with Premier League sides

The company’s founders have already expressed their desire to work with top-flight sides in the next two years.

With a desire to work with teams challenging for trophies and Europe, there are options on the horizon.

Newcastle United could appear an appetising venture should their pending takeover be finalised, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, with their current deal with Puma expiring this summer.

Watford are also in the same position, with their adidas deal expiring at the end of this season.

Newcastle United will be in the market for a new manufacturer with their Puma deal expiring

Watford’s agreement with adidas is also set to expire this summer and will need a new partner

PREMIER LEAGUE KIT DEALS

1.  Liverpool – £80m per year, Nike (contract expires: N/A)

2. Man United – £75m, adidas (2025)

3. Man City – £65m, Puma (2029)

4. Arsenal – £60m, adidas (2024)

5. Chelsea –  £60m, Nike (2032)

6. Tottenham – £30m, Nike (2033)

7. Everton – £10m, Hummel (2023)  

8. Southampton – £9m, Under Armour (2023) 

9. Newcastle – £6.5m, Puma (2020)

10. West Ham – £5m, Umbro (2023)

11. Crystal Palace – £4m, Puma (N/A)

12= Aston Villa – £3m, Kappa (2022)

12= Leicester City – £3m, adidas (N/A)

12= Wolves – £3m, adidas (2022)

15. Norwich – £2.5m, errea (2024)

16= Brighton – £1.5m, Nike (2022)

16= Burnley – £1.5m, Umbro (2022)

18. Bournemouth – £1m, Umbro (2022)

19= Sheff Utd – £750k, adidas (2021)

19=  Watford – £750k, adidas (2020) 




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When will NASCAR Xfinity race at Darlington start? Rain forces postponement

UPDATE: The race has been postponed to noon ET Thursday, NASCAR announced.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The start of Tuesday night’s Toyota 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is under a weather delay. Rain in the region has postponed the scheduled 6 p.m. ET start. Track and NASCAR personnel are in the process of drying the historic 1.366-mile oval with the hopes of getting the race started later Tuesday evening.

JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson, who won the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona, drew the pole position for Tuesday’s race and will start alongside teammate Michael Annett. Xfinity Series points leader Harrison Burton will start 12th alongside Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe, who trails Burton by three points in the standings.

As with the two NASCAR Cup Series races being held at Darlington this week, there was no qualifying nor practice sessions for Tuesday’s race. No fans will be in attendance and the teams and essential NASCAR personnel are maintaining strict social distancing.

The trio of Darlington races — Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race won by Kevin Harvick, Tuesday’s Xfinity Series race and a second NASCAR Cup Series race moved up to 6 p.m. ET Wednesday — mark the return of competition in an adjusted schedule.

Teams will move to the NASCAR Charlotte hub later in the week, with four races slated for Charlotte Motor Speedway, including a pair of NASCAR Cup Series races (Sunday and Wednesday) and an Xfinity (Monday) and Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series race (Tuesday).

Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service. This article has been updated with NASCAR announcing a postponement of the race.

 

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Coulthard: Hamilton will retire at Mercedes and wouldn't suit Ferrari

‘I just think he’s made for British teams. He’ll be at Mercedes or he’ll retire’: David Coulthard believes six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t suit ‘culture’ at Ferrari… and bringing Sebastian Vettel in as 2021 team-mate would be a ‘mistake’

  • Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari exit has kick-started more talk of Lewis Hamilton going
  • David Coulthard believes six-time champion Hamilton will retire at Mercedes
  • He says Hamilton doesn’t suit the ‘culture’ of team like Ferrari, much like himself
  • Coulthard also believes Mercedes signing Vettel could ‘disrupt’ team’s success

Racing legend David Coulthard believes Lewis Hamilton will finish his career at Mercedes amid sustained links to Ferrari and a big-money team change.

Hamilton is a six-time world champion with Mercedes, but Sebastian Vettel’s impending Ferrari exit – announced this week – once again set the wheels in motion for discussions regarding the Brit’s future.

It has now been revealed that Carlos Sainz will take the Ferrari seat for 2021, and Coulthard believes Hamilton will never leave Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton will not leave Mercedes to join a non-British team, says David Coulthard 

Coulthard, pictured last year, believes – like him – Hamilton wouldn’t suit the Italian culture 

Speaking exclusively to Sportsmail, when asked if Hamilton could even join Ferrari Coulthard said: ‘No. I don’t think so. Lewis Hamilton has been with Mercedes for most of his career, certainly with Mercedes power, initially with McLaren and now with Mercedes. I just think he’s made for British teams. 

‘Even if he did leave Mercedes, I just don’t see him fitting in with the culture at an Italian-based team. I say that as someone who had a contract offered to me to race with Ferrari, in 1996, and in the end I just felt more comfortable with British teams. 

‘I’m not being disrespectful or nationalistic, I just don’t think I would have fitted in, and I think that’s the case with Lewis. He fits better with Mercedes. I think he’ll be there, or he’ll retire.’

Vettel moving the other way has now been mooted, with the German now left to find himself a team for the 2021 season. Given other driver changes around the grid, Renault and Mercedes seem the two most-likely destinations, but Coulthard believes the latter would be making a wrong decision by opting for a change.

Sebastian Vettel (right) is being replaced by Carlos Sainz at Ferrari for the 2021 season

Coulthard believes Mercedes shouldn’t hire Vettel as a way to push Hamilton to the next level 

‘I think that would be a mistake for Mercedes,’ he said. ‘In Lewis, they’ve got someone who can win Grands Prix and Championships. To bring Seb in there because you think that that will raise Lewis’ game… it’s very difficult.

‘If you look at these exceptional performances in sport, serial winners, I don’t think he needs the friction of a four-time world champion to get the best out of him. I think Vettel could be disruptive to the team.

‘I think that if he offered his services for no money then of course the Mercedes board would have to look at it seriously, to have a German driver in the team, but I just can’t imagine he would, so the pairing of Valtteri and Lewis seems like the most efficient way to win another Championship.

‘Both drivers can’t win, there’s never been a dead heat in a Grand Prix, so you’re only going to end up with problems that history have shown when you have two strong personalities in one team.’

Coulthard (left) will take on the likes of Nico Rosberg (right) and Roberto Carlos (2R) on Sunday

Coulthard was speaking to Sportsmail ahead of this Sunday’s Heineken Legends Race, in which he will take on the likes of Nico Rosberg, Roberto Carlos and Robert Doornbos from the comfort of his own home.

The leading F1 sponsor have sent a simulator to the Brit’s Monaco apartment, enabling him to take part in an Grand Prix remotely. That said, Coulthard doesn’t much fancy his chances of a place on the podium. 

‘Things have moved on a little bit since I was in the games arcade putting 20p in a machine called “Pole Position”. I don’t know how the hell I managed to be a Grand Prix driver, I can barely switch this thing on,’ he joked. 

‘It arrived yesterday, so I’m currently getting comfortable in the seat. My 11-year-old son walked away in embarrassment when I had a little practice earlier, so I’ve now got no family support. 

”If you’re looking to me for advice, you’re in deep s***’.       

David Coulthard is taking part in the F1 Esports #ChallengeHeinekenLegends, at 18.00 BST on Sunday 17th May. Tune in to F1.com’s YouTube, Twitch or Facebook this Sunday to follow the action live. 




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Lineker fears England will have little choice but to follow Holland

‘May well prove to be the only way’: Gary Lineker fears the Premier League will have little choice but to follow the Dutch FA and VOID the 2019-20 season… but Jamie Carragher insists ‘no one here wants this’

  • Eredivisie agreed to scrap season with title left vacant by Ajax and AZ Alkmaar 
  • Decision has sparked more debate as to whether Premier League should follow 
  • Liverpool are currently 25 points clear at the top but it’s much tighter elsewhere
  • UEFA held a crunch meeting on Thursday to decide fate of 2019-20 campaign
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Gary Lineker fears the Premier League will have little choice but to follow the Dutch FA and void the 2019-20 season.

Holland’s Eredivisie agreed to scrap the season on Friday with the title left vacant by Ajax and AZ Alkmaar and no promotion or relegation.

And the decision has sparked more debate as to whether the English top flight should follow suit amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Holland’s Eredivisie agreed to scrap season with the title left vacant by Ajax and AZ Alkmaar

Gary Lineker fears the Premier League will have little choice but to follow the Dutch FA

Piers Morgan agreed that voiding the 2019-20 season like in Holland is the way to go

Pundit Lineker wrote on Twitter: ‘May well prove to be the only way. Hardly the fairest way, though?’

Piers Morgan responded to Lineker by writing: ‘I honestly think it is. Every other solution I have seen is less fair than simply accepting the season cannot be finished and voiding it. 

‘Holland has realised that, but we’re still desperately trying to save a season that can’t be saved.’

While former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher asked his 1.5 million Twitter followers for their thoughts on the Dutch call.

He then wrote: ‘Seems no one on here wants this outcome or my suggestion of PPG (points per game) on the back of UEFA using it for European places. 

‘So the message is get the season done whenever the virus allows.’

Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher asked 1.5 million Twitter followers for their thoughts

Both Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were level on points at the top of the Eredivisie table, but neither will be crowned champions.

Promotion and relegation have also been axed – with Cambuur, who were 11 points clear at the top of the second tier, now cruelly missing out on a return to the Eredivisie after three seasons away.

The Premier League was suspended indefinitely last month due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Liverpool are currently 25 points clear at top of the Premier League but it’s tighter elsewhere

UEFA held a crunch meeting on Thursday morning to decide fate of the 2019-20 campaign.

While European football’s governing body prefers seasons to be played out, if that is not possible they want each nation to select qualifying clubs ‘based on sporting merit in the 2019-20 domestic competitions.’ 

The Premier League remain committed to completing the season and UEFA have removed a key barrier to it finishing with no further play — although the legal and commercial issues with television companies remain. 

Liverpool are currently 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League but it is much closer between the sides battling for places in Europe and to avoid relegation. 

 

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UEFA confirm Euro 2020 WILL keep its name, despite being held in 2021

UEFA confirm Euro 2020 WILL keep its name, despite being held in 2021 after delay caused by coronavirus outbreak

  • Euro 2020 was postponed by 12 months in March due to coronavirus
  • But it will keep its original name despite being played in summer of 2021
  • Governing body do not want to dispense with branded merchandise 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

UEFA have confirmed that next summer’s European Championship will still be called ‘Euro 2020’ despite the fact it is to be played in 2021.

This summer’s tournament, which was scheduled to be held throughout Europe, has been delayed by a year due to ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus.  

A lot of branded merchandise had already been produced by the time of the tournament’s postponement. 

Euro 2020 will still be referred to as Euro 2020, despite being hosted next year in 2021

A change to the name of the event would have meant the destruction and reproduction of such items.

Earlier on Thursday the women’s Euro 2021 was moved back to July 2022 to avoid a clash with the men’s tournament.

Euro 2020 will be held from June 21 to July 11 in 2021 and is still scheduled to take place across the continent despite the devastating pandemic.

It was delayed last month after the current health crisis brought a sudden halt to sport across the world. 

Options for the rearrangement of the European Under-21 Championship, due to be played in the summer of 2021 in Hungary and Slovenia, will be discussed at a meeting of UEFA’s national teams competitions committee on May 11, for ratification at an executive committee meeting on May 27 

Thursday’s big video conference meeting was led by UEFA’s president Aleksander Ceferin

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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Newcastle 'will target Pochettino or Allegri' to replace Steve Bruce

Newcastle ‘will target Mauricio Pochettino or Max Allegri’ to replace Steve Bruce, while Edinson Cavani tops transfer wishlist when Saudi-backed £300m takeover is completed

  • Mike Ashley is in the process of selling Newcastle to Saudi Arabian buyers
  • The £300million sale of the Magpies will usher in a new era at St James’ Park
  • Once complete, the new owners will reportedly bring in a host of new recruits
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri could replace Steve Bruce as boss
  • Paris St-Germain striker Edinson Cavani will also a transfer target for Newcastle

Newcastle will look to replace Steve Bruce with Mauricio Pochettino or Massimiliano Allegri once Mike Ashley has sold the club, according to reports.

A Saudi-backed consortium is on the verge of buying the club for £300million, which will see a number of changes made in the dressing room.

According to ESPN, the club’s new owners are looking to bring in a high-profile manager which will spell the end of Bruce’s one-season stint at the club.


Mauricio Pochettino (left) and Massimiliano Allegri (R) are managerial targets for Newcastle

Reports suggest Steve Bruce could be shown the door once the £300m takeover is complete

Two other candidates are also being considered with Rafa Benitez and Lucien Favre among the four-man shortlist although both are currently in jobs while Pochettino and Allegri aren’t.

Benitez, who left the club last summer to take over at Dalian Yifang, remains popular among the Toon support and could make a swift return considering his longstanding links with Amanda Staveley – who is brokering the £300m takeover. 

The report goes on to claim that the owners believe they can offer a project that will attract the likes of Pochettino and Allegri to the club, along with a host of star players.

It goes on to state that a number of meetings have already taken place over video-messaging platform Zoom, who hope big-name signings can sway any of the managers involved to join the Newcastle revolution. 

PSG striker Edinson Cavani is also reportedly top of Newcastle’s transfer wishlist


Napoli’s Dries Mertens (left) and Chelsea’s Willian (right) are being linked with Newcastle

Top of their transfer wishlist is Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani, who has been linked away from the Ligue 1 champions for the past year.

The Uruguayan is reportedly ready to turn down any offers to return to South America in an attempt to stay in Europe and keep his sot in the national team in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Napoli’s Belgian forward Dries Mertens is also being targeted by Newcastle, once the takeover goes through while Chelsea winger Willian could also make the move to the north east.

The takeover of the club is set to be announced soon while the consortium is yet to pass the Premier League’s Owners and Directors test. 




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Gianluigi Buffon 'will sign contract extension with Juventus'

Gianluigi Buffon ‘will sign contract extension with Juventus after coronavirus lockdown’ to take 42-year-old into his 26th season

  • Gianluigi Buffon is set to sign a new contract extension with Juventus very soon
  • The keeper is likely to sign the new deal after the coronavirus lockdown in Italy
  • Francesco Totti says 42-year-old Buffon wants to play the game until he is 50
  • Fabio Cannavaro believes he will be told to stop despite wishing to continue
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Gianluigi Buffon is set to sign a new contract extension with Juventus according to Tuttosport.

The new deal, which he is set to sign after the coronavirus lockdown, will take the goalkeeper into his 26th season as a professional.

This comes after Francesco Totti and Fabio Cannavaro said they believe their fellow World Cup winner Buffon will continue playing until Juventus ‘make him stop’.

Gianluigi Buffon is set to sign a new contract extension with Juventus according to Tuttosport

Former Roma captain Totti expects thegoalkeeper – who returned to Juventus last year after a short spell at Paris Saint-Germain – to extend his career for as long as possible. 

‘I’ll tell you; Gigi wants to play until he’s 50. But he can play for two or three more seasons. Besides, he’s in goal and is a back-up,’ Totti told former defender Cannavaro on Instagram.

Cannavaro, 46, who captained Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, retired from playing in 2011 while 43-year-old Totti hung up his boots in 2017.


Totti (left) and Cannavaro (right) have both hung up their boots but Buffon goes on

Buffon has made it clear he has no interest in retiring any time soon.

Cannavaro highlighted Buffon’s career intentions, saying his retirement would be forced rather than voluntary.

‘Well, you’ll know it. He won’t want to stop, but they will make him stop, which is very different,’ the former Juventus centre-back replied.




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