THE Premier League is planning to return on June 12 at neutral venues – but only if it gets the green light from the government.
However, PFA chief Gordon Taylor has stunned fans by revealing that playing less than 90 minutes could be one of the rule changes considered.
Follow all the latest coronavirus in sport updates below, underneath our quick poll…
YOU’RE ALL LIONS
The England men’s team have made a “significant donation” to the NHS, using match fees dating back to September 2018.
The move, which was instigated and orchestrated by the squad, comes in conjunction with the playerstogether movement involving Premier League players and will go towards the NHS Charities Together.
A players’ fund already exists to support a selection of good causes, with a portion now steered directly towards the under pressure health service during the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement released on the official England Twitter feed read: “Following positive discussions with The FA, the England senior men’s squad are pleased to confirm that a significant donation from their international match fees will be made to NHS Charities Together via the playerstogether initiative.
“This contribution will be taken from a fund already set aside to support a variety of worthy causes using all match fees collated since September 2018. We are also grateful to The FA for committing their support to the playerstogether initiative for the foreseeable future by helping to raise awareness and funds to assist throughout the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.
“This is in addition to the senior women’s squad’s commitment to playerstogether as we stand united as England players behind the nation during this crisis and our collective prayers and thoughts remain with all those affected.”
Scotland’s men and women teams have united to make a “substantial” donation to frontline health workers.
The Scottish Football Association revealed the gift to NHS Charities Together was made up of personal contributions and commercial appearance fees that had been due to the respective squads.
Scotland captain Andy Robertson said: “We have all been inspired by the selflessness of nurses, doctors and all healthcare workers on the front line – it only reinforces how vital the NHS is to our country and how we must cherish and protect this institution.
“Throughout the squad we have players with friends and family members involved in the NHS, so when the idea was floated around the WhatsApp group chat, it was a no-brainer and unanimously the right thing to do.
“Rachel (Corsie) and the women’s national team were having similar conversations and I am proud that we can demonstrate our solidarity with the wonderful NHS staff in Scotland and across the UK. On behalf of the men’s national team, I say ‘thank you’ to you all.”
Women’s team captain Corsie added: “On behalf of the women’s national team we are proud to contribute in our own small way and proud of our NHS in Scotland.”
PFA chief Gordon Taylor has revealed Premier League matches may not be the full 90 minutes if and when the 2019-20 season resumes from the coronavirus lockdown.
The remainder of the English top flight looks likely to be played behind closed doors and in neutral stadiums across the country this summer.
But here is how the table would look if the season had taken Taylor’s bizarre suggestion and played only 80 minutes per match.
IT WAS K’LOU-LESS
Salomon Kalou has said sorry to his Hertha Berlin team-mates for breaching social distancing protocol.
He uploaded a video to his Facebook clearly breaching guidelines and has been suspended from training and games by his club.
The former Chelsea forward told Bild: “I made my peace with it.”
“My team-mates know very well who I really am.
“I apologised to them. They all accepted the apology.”
NICE TO SEE JU
Aaron Ramsey arrived for Juventus training today as the Serie A moved a step closer to restarting the season.
The Italian champions were taking every precaution necessary over player safety by testing each and every member who entered the facility for coronavirus.
Only the Juve stars who remained in the country over the lockdown period turned up to training including Leonardo Bonucci, Federico Bernardeschi, Juan Cuadrado and Carlo Pinsoglio.
They were medically screened in the car park before heading inside the facility to work on their fitness.
Italy has been one of the worst-hit nations with over 210,000 confirmed cases and just under 30,000 deaths.
The Juventus players will remain under strict government protocol that includes maintaining a safe distance between players and training among small groups.
DON’T SET THE ‘BAR LOW
Eibar have cast doubt over the restart of LaLiga after releasing a statement uttering their fears.
The players said in a joint message: “We are afraid to start an activity in which we will not be able to meet the first recommendation of all experts, physical distancing.
“We are concerned that, by doing what we like best, we can catch it, infect our family and friends, and even contribute to a new outbreak of the epidemic, with the terrible consequences that this would entail for the entire population.
“The first must be the health of all, and it is time for that idea to prevail with facts, not only with words.
“Only with that clear premise, it would make sense to return to competition. We ask for guarantees. We demand responsibility.”
SWING AND YOU’RE WINNING
Australian spin great Shane Warne has suggested using weighted balls to help pace bowlers generate swing without risking health when cricket resumes after the coronavirus shutdown.
The traditional way of shining the ball by rubbing it with sweat and saliva to generate swing is likely to be discontinued on health grounds when cricket restarts after the pandemic has subsided.
Australian cricket-ball manufacturer Kookaburra says it is developing a wax applicator to enhance the shine and aid swing but Warne offered an alternative.
The leg spinner said: “Why can’t the ball be weighted on one side so it always swings?
“It would be like a taped tennis ball or like with the lawn bowls.
“I’m not sure you’d want it to hoop around corners like Wasim (Akram) and Waqar (Younis) but it could swing and give the seamer something on flat wickets when it’s hot and the pitch is at its flattest on day two, day three.”
MES QUE UN LAB
Barcelona players have been ordered to undergo coronavirus testing when they return to
training, according to the club.
The Catalan giants released a brief statement detailing how they want to test the players.
ℹ The Barça players will undergo medical testing on Wednesday￼ at the Ciutat Esportiva
— FC Barcelona (from 🏠) (@FCBarcelona) May 5, 2020
RUGBY ‘CATASTROPHE’ LOOMING
RFU chief Bill Sweeney has described the prospect of the sport being postponed into 2021 as “catastrophic” for the health of rugby.
Sweeney was giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sport and said rugby union in England would need a Government bailout if next year’s Six Nations could not be played.
He said: “That would be catastrophic, 85 per cent of our income comes form hosting men’s international games at Twickenham.
“Twickenham is a major asset for us. When you own a stadium it is a major cost and at the same time brings in large revenue.
“If this was to be prolonged and the Six Nations games were impacted, then it would be a catastrophic impact on rugby union in England.
“We would be looking at some very severe situations.”
FAN’S THE PLAN
Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad have agreed not to play the Copa del Rey final until fans can attend.
The Spanish sides were due to go head-to-head on April 18, but the date was scrapped due to the coronavirus crisis.
The delay of the game led to speculation that the highly-anticipated fixture between the Basque rivals would have to be played behind closed doors.
But the two LaLiga sides have made it clear to the Spanish football federation that they want their fans in attendance.
Real Sociedad confirmed the decision of the two clubs by sharing an update with their Twitter followers.
It read: “OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. @AthleticClub and @RealSociedad presidents have agreed to ask the @rfef that the Copa del Rey final 19/20 is played open doors.”
GROUNDS FOR CONCERN
Arsenal would be the Premier League club MOST affected by games being played behind closed doors, according to the Telegraph.
The Gunners make a lot of money out of their hospitality suites at the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium.
And the latest research suggests Premier League clubs could lose around £878million from coronavirus.
Rafael Nadal has admitted he sees 2020’s tennis season as “virtually lost” after the strict coronavirus lockdown measures issued in Spain.
The 19-time Grand Slam winner said: “I hope so but I don’t think so unfortunately.
“I would take being ready for 2021.
“I’m more concerned with the Australian Open than what happens later this year. I see 2020 as practically lost.
“My feeling and I say it sadly, is that we’re losing a year of our lives.
“And at 33, 34 years old, that is more valuable tnan at 20 when you have a lot more ahead.”
England rugby have confirmed that former English football kit supplier Umbro will make their new jerseys.
Canterbury have been the Red Rose’s supplier until now, but they will switch as of September 1.
It could get complicated with one Six Nations game still to play in Italy.
It is leading to speculation England could use Canterbury for their fixture against the Azzurri, which is expected to be played in October.
And then they would switch to Umbro for the following match.
It is not even known if the Autumn Internationals will be played in front of any fans.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said the impact of coronavirus could cost his organisation £380million, reports PA.
Harrison was giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sport and sounded a harsh warning.
He said: “We are still working out the impact of Covid-19.
“We anticipate with no cricket this year a worst-case scenario could be as bad as £380million.
“That would be the loss of 800 days of cricket across all of our professional clubs and the ECB.
“That is the worst-case scenario for us this year.”
CHAMP CASH CRISIS
Football League (EFL) clubs are facing a “cash hole” of £200 million by September, chairman Rick Parry told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Parry, the former chief executive of Liverpool, was being questioned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and said all involved in the game, including players and owners, needed to “share the pain”.
He said: “We are heading for a financial hole of about 200 million, a cash hole we need to fill, clubs will need to fill…the cash hole towards autumn looks pretty grim.”
Parry said he was hoping the league would come out of the crisis “stronger, leaner more efficient, to have a proper reset” and said he hoped players would be willing to take pay cuts.
“What was clear at the start of the process (was that) the players were not aware of the depth of the problem,” he said, adding that an “open book” policy from the league would help the players see the need for cuts or deferrals.
BACK ON THE GRASS
Manchester United target Jadon Sancho is back in training ahead of the Bundesliga’s restart with Borussia Dortmund.
The star England winger, who is United’s top transfer target this summer, has got back to business with Erling Haaland, Axel Witzel and Mario Goetze.
German chancellor Angel Merkel is expected to approve the return of the country’s top flight for next Friday, May 15.
There have been bumps during the first week back at training, with Cologne having three players testing positive for Covid-19.
And Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou suspended for filming himself breaking coronavirus guidelines.
But the league is expected to progress as planned at the end of next week.
Bayern Munich remain top, four points ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund with nine games to go.
Premier League games could last less than 90 minutes when football returns, according to PFA chief Gordon Taylor.
The controversial Professional Footballers’ Association supremo told BBC Radio 4: “I’m talking about protocol that’s coming out, I’m talking about the future.
“We don’t know the future, what we do know is what propositions have been put forward and ideas.
“More subs, games possibly not being full 45 minutes each way, neutral stadiums, there’s lots of things put forward.
“We’re trying to wait to see what proposals are and have the courtesy to let the managers and coaches and players assimilate all those and come to a considered view.”
TESTING GETS FULL MARKS
Coronavirus testing will be available ahead of UFC 249.
According to MMAFighting.com, the event will include both swab and antibody testing.
UFC want the results available before the event, but in a leaked email, it is not specified how many tests will be taking place.
Testing will begin when the fighters arrive in Jacksonville, Florida ahead of the event this Saturday where Tony Ferguson fights Justin Gaethje.
As reported last night, United’s plan to increase Old Trafford’s capacity will have to wait until the end of next season because of coronavirus.
The Red Devils were planning on boosting attendances at home games by adding seats in the summer but they have been scuppered by Covid-19.
The club had planned to increase capacity after the installation of 300 disabled positions in 2006 reduced the overall capacity from 76,000 to 73,300 but this is now on hold, according to the Mail.
United were hoping to reconfigure existing areas to add more seats as stadium expansion poses significant logistical challenges.
In 2018, it emerged the Glazers wanted to increase Old Trafford’s overall capacity to a whopping 90,000.
They planned to put an extra tier on the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand to boost attendances, but the ambitious and complex plan could have left the Red Devils homeless.
THUMBS UP FOR NRL
Australia’s suspended National Rugby League has declared it is “full steam ahead” for its May 28 restart after players agreed to 20 per cent pay-cuts for the abridged 2020 season.
Players will be guaranteed 80 per cent of their salary in the 20-round season, which was reduced from 25 rounds due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said in a statement on Tuesday: “It is full steam ahead for the resumption of the competition on May 28.
“All eyes will be on the NRL as the only live sport on television. There will never have been more interest in rugby league than on May 28.”
The season was suspended after two rounds in March when travel restrictions and border controls aimed at containing COVID-19 made it untenable.
HIT & MISSY
American swimming superstar Missy Franklin shares the pain of those athletes who have been forced to put their dreams of glory at Tokyo 2020 on hold, reports PA.
The five-time Olympic champion is still haunted by her enforced retirement at the age of just 23 in 2018 due to a shoulder injury – wrecking her own hopes of becoming the most decorated female swimmer of all time.
Franklin told laureus.com: “I never expected that my career was going to be over at 23. I never wanted it to be.
“My ultimate goal was to be the most decorated female Olympic swimmer of all time, and I didn’t get that.
“That was something that from the moment I stepped on to the Olympic stage in London, I really, really believed I could do.
“It makes a dream and a goal even harder to lose, when you really, truly believe that you can do it, and you don’t.”
MACCY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Rory McIlroy has been enjoying a birthday under isolation as he gets set to play in a coronavirus charity game in Florida.
The £3.21million clash between Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Woolfe will take place on May 17 in a skins game.
McIlroy said on Instagram: “Thank you for all the birthday wishes! Quarantined birthday with my family is all I wanted.”
GOOD MORNING SPORTS FANS
Yesterday was a busy day as Harding Park golf course is set to reopen in a huge boost to PGA Championship going ahead after coronavirus lockdown.
In tennis, Serena Williams played HERSELF at tennis in a brilliant Tiktok video in her back garden.
F1 bosses revealed ambitious plans to start coronavirus-hit season with drivers tested every two days.
And SunSport exclusively revealed the world’s best modern pentathlete set up a SHOOTING RANGE in his back garden with his Team GB team-mate.
In football, SunSport exclusively revealed Premier League stars will be banned from spitting and ordered to wear snoods or masks as the full list of training rules were revealed.
Six Prem teams – including West Ham and Brighton – also emerged who are putting ‘Project Restart’ at risk because they do not want to play matches at neutral stadiums.
But it was revealed top flight games will be shown on YouTube for FREE when the season resumes.
And SunSport also exclusively revealed Wembley is back as a potential venue as club chiefs fight to return.
But the Premier League’s foreign players are facing pressure from their families over alleged railroading into a return.
Their thoughts are in line with Ian Holloway who exclusively told SunSport he fears ‘killing’ players if football rushes to return from the coronavirus delay.
Real Madrid were set a May 11 deadline for return to training with LaLiga planning resumption.
Cristiano Ronaldo donated money to struggling lower league players not being paid.
And finally, Tottenham are set for a £10m hit as the NFL cancelled all London games for 2020 season over coronavirus safety fears for players and fans.
“I’ve loved the Premier League this year. It’s been an incredible experience.
“The questions in mind now are: How will it finish? When? If they postponed it, will I be back in it next year?
“Thursdays, apart from the clapping at 8pm, are no different to other days.
“I accept the lockdown but I miss playing Newcastle and Rotterdam. That was tough.”
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