The 2019-20 FA Cup final has been rescheduled for August 1. The Football Association announced the dates for the final three rounds of the competition on Friday morning, following on from the Premier League confirming its intention to return on June 17 subject to Government clearance.
The competition had reached the quarter-final stage before professional football in England was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The four matches in the last eight will be played over the weekend of June 27 and 28, with no decision reached yet on whether these will be played on a home-and-away basis as normal or at neutral venues.
The semi-finals will be played on July 11 and 12, with the intention being for those matches and the final to be played at Wembley as usual. All the ties will be behind closed doors.
The news will be a boost to the FA from a financial perspective, with its chief executive Mark Bullingham warning in April of the governing body suffering losses of up to £150million as a result of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said on Friday: “We are pleased to agree the provisional restart date for the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup. The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we’d like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time.
“This has been a difficult period for many people and while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met. The health and well-being of players, staff and supporters remains our priority.”
The arrangements for broadcasting the matches are yet to be confirmed, with BT Sport and BBC holding the UK rights. The split for the quarter-finals had been announced in March prior to the competition being suspended, but it remains to be seen whether the same split will still apply.
Maggi Alphonsi: If governing bodies don’t stand up for women’s sport, the consequences could be dire
Here’s an excerpt from Maggi Alphonsi’s column on Telegraph Sport right now:
Without women’s team sport to watch, any progress we have made is at risk of being lost. Women’s sport was undeniably on the up, with great athletes and inspiring role models shining through. If you take that visibility away for up to six months – and it seems that we may not have a match in a female team sport until September – then you could lose a generation of future players.
This year’s Multisport World Championships, scheduled to take place in Almere from Sept. 4-13, have been pushed back to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, World Triathlon said on Friday.
The Multisport World Championships are a 10-day event featuring more than 8,000 athletes, who compete in disiciplines such as duathlon, long distance triathlon and aquathlon among others.
The 2021 event in Townsville will subsequently move to 2022, while Ibiza will host the competition in 2023.
“This has not been an easy decision… but considering the situation facing athletes around the world… we all agreed that the best option for all concerned was to move the events forward by one year,” World Triathlon President Marisol Casado said.
Spanish soccer matches could have the look of a video game when the competition resumes next month.
The league is contemplating adding virtual crowds to the television broadcast of matches that will be played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spanish league president Javier Tebas said Friday the league is working with the possibility of giving fans an option to watch the original feed from the empty stadiums or an alternative one with crowds superimposed on the stands, similar to those in video games.
“We are testing to see if we can allow the spectator to choose between two images _ the real one or another with virtual fans and sounds,” Tebas said in an online video conference organized by Spanish sports newspaper Marca. “We want to give fans options. The tests I’ve seen so far are impressive.”
Tebas said fans may also have the option of hearing pre-recorded crowd noise or stick with the live sound from the empty stadiums.
Tebas said the Bundesliga, which resumed recently in Germany, was successful using virtual sound during its matches, and the Spanish league wants to go a step further by using the virtual fans.
Clubs in different countries have experimented with new ideas for matches in empty stadiums, including placing large photographs of fans in the stands and using a large Zoom wall to make fans feels closer to the action.
The biggest challenge for the virtual crowd the Spanish league wants to use is to make sure it will work properly when superimposed during the live event.
Tebas said the Spanish league will also want to be at the forefront when real fans will be allowed back in the stadiums, which local government officials believe will be possible beginning next season with some restrictions that will include reduced attendance, distancing guidelines and the use of protective materials such as gloves and masks.
“In 2021 we will be back to normal,” Tebas said. “I don’t think there will be a ‘before’ and an ‘after,’ as some people say.”
Borussia Dortmund’s prolific teenage striker Erling Haaland will miss their next Bundesliga match at Paderborn while Mo Dahoud has been ruled out for the rest of the season just as he was finding his form, coach Lucien Favre said Friday.
Haaland, who has scored 10 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances since his move from Salzburg in January, has a knee problem while Dahoud as an “unspecified knee injury”, Favre told reporters ahead of Sunday’s game away to the Bundesliga’s bottom-placed side.
Second-placed Dortmund have dropped seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich after their 1-0 home defeat against the Bavarians on Tuesday.
Dahoud has started all three games since the Bundesliga resumed following the coronavirus stoppage and had appeared to be gaining in confidence.
“Each player needs confidence and Mo played better in Wolfsburg and better against Bayern … it’s a question of match practice and confidence,” said Favre.
Favre said he was not disappointed with the performance against Bayern, despite the result, while sports director Michael Zorc said that the lack of fans in the stadium affected the team.
“Home advantage is lost without the spectators nearby,” he said. “Of course, I would have liked to have had our fans on Tuesday. If we had played with the 1-0 deficit in the second half towards the South Tribune, a lot more would have been possible.”
The Swiss professional soccer league (SFL) will became the latest in Europe to restart after its 20 member clubs voted on Friday in favour of resuming the season, which was suspended in early March because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The SFL said in a statement that the two divisions – the top tier Super League and the second tier Challenge League – were set to restart on June 19 and be completed by Aug 2 with all matches behind closed doors.
It said that, with 13 rounds of matches still to be played, there would be a number of so-called “English weeks” with midweek and weekend matches. Teams would be allowed up to five substitutions per match.
The SFL said that each club was allowed to send one representative to Friday’s meeting which was held “in strict compliance with the hygiene and distance rules imposed by the cantonal government.”
It added that the clubs had rejected a proposal to increase the Super League from 10 to 12 clubs next season.
Renault has reaffirmed its commitment to Formula One despite announcing that almost 15,000 jobs will go worldwide as part of a two million euro cost-saving package over the next three years.
The measures were announced during an online press conference on Friday morning as the Renault Group warned it needed to respond to a major crisis facing the automotive industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, interim chief executive Clotilde Delbos said the measures will not include a withdrawal from Formula One.
“We have said publicly and we can confirm that we remain committed to Formula One,” Delbos said. “The fact that the FIA has capped expenses is great news for us.”
Earlier this week, the governing body approved plans to introduce significant budget caps into the sport from next year, starting at 145million US dollars (£117million) from 2021, then further reduced to 140m US dollars in 2022 and 135million US dollars across 2023-25, based on a season of 21 races.
In addition to its works team, Renault currently supplies engines to McLaren, but the British team is due to switch to Mercedes next season.
Renault returned to F1 in 2016 but is yet to replicate the success it enjoyed prior to leaving in 2010, with the last of its drivers’ titles won by Fernando Alonso in 2006.
The works team is searching for a new driver to partner Esteban Ocon following confirmation that Daniel Ricciardo will join McLaren next season.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has named a bumper 55-man training group ahead of what it hopes will be a busy international schedule, with a host of new and returning faces joining the core squad.
Fourteen uncapped players from the county game have been invited to resume work under ECB guidance – Dan Lawrence, James Bracey, Phil Salt, Jamie Overton, Henry Brookes, Brydon Carse, Amar Virdi, Laurie Evans, Will Jacks, Ollie Robinson, Richard Gleeson, Sam Hain, Tom Helm and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.
There are also returns for the likes of Pat Brown, Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, David Willey, Mason Crane and Reece Topley – all capped in various formats but not seen in recent times.
Despite the vast nature of the list there are still those who will be disappointed not to feature, including World Cup winner Liam Plunkett – who can safely conclude his England days are now done – Hampshire batsman Sam Northeast and Essex seamer Jamie Porter.
Alex Hales, who was dropped from the World Cup squad last year when news broke of two failed drugs tests, is nowhere to be seen following one-day captain Eoin Morgan’s assertion that the breach in trust between the batsman and his team-mates had not yet healed.
The expanded group will not be brought together in one place, with individual sessions at a host of county venues the only form of training currently approved, and does not represent an official England squad.
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Dom Bess (Somerset), Sam Billings (Kent), James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Henry Brookes (Warwickshire), Pat Brown (Worcestershire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Brydon Carse (Durham), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Laurie Evans (Sussex), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Richard Gleeson (Lancashire), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Sam Hain (Warwickshire), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Will Jacks (Surrey), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Phil Salt (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Reece Topley (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), Amar Virdi (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)
Format-specific squads will be named at a later date, starting with Test cricket. Hopes are high that the delayed three-match series against the West Indies will go ahead in July but should the rest of the calendar fall into place – including a full Pakistan tour and limited-overs matches against Australia and Ireland – a wide pool of players will be required to stage matches in close succession while still offering the right amount of travel, training and rest time.
ECB performance director Mo Bobat, who joined the selectors and the head coach Chris Silverwood in putting together the list, explained: “It’s really pleasing to be in a position to have players returning to training and a huge amount of work has been done by many to get us this far.
“The pool of players will give selectors strong options when it comes to selecting squads across formats further down the line, as we move closer to our aim of playing international cricket this summer.
“We will need to continue to work closely with our medical team and government to ensure that our return to training and play activities are in line with best-practice guidelines.
“We’re also really grateful for the positive and collaborative response from our county colleagues who are doing a great job at facilitating coaching and support for the players. The fact that we can call on our network to support the national effort shows the strength of our system.”
Police have set out the Premier League matches they would like to be played at neutral venues, which would include any Liverpool game where the title could be won.
The matches which have been requested to take place at neutral grounds are Manchester City v Liverpool, Manchester City v Newcastle, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle v Liverpool and Everton v Liverpool.
The police statement adds that “the game in which Liverpool could secure the league title” should also be moved, but this may end up needing to be more than one match if the Reds did not clinch it at the first attempt.
Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s football policing lead, said in a statement issued to the PA news agency: “Our discussions with the Premier League throughout this process have been positive, with a shared focus on the priority of public health.
“As such we have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing.
“The majority of remaining matches will be played at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed.
“The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums.”
Newcastle, in 13th, are the lowest-ranked side to be involved in a match at a neutral venue as things stand. There had been complaints from some clubs towards the bottom of the table, including Brighton, about the impact of playing at neutral venues on sporting integrity.
Clubs will hold further discussions on whether to proceed with the season on this basis when they meet again on June 4. The police statement did not mention any matches in the English Football League.
Championship clubs are back in training with a view to restarting next month, and an EFL spokesperson said: “It remains our intention to play all remaining league matches at clubs’ home grounds as long as they comply with the relevant Government guidance.
“We will only seek to move matches if they are not permitted by the relevant local authority, following any representations from the local police force.”
The Women’s Tour will go virtual next month after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s edition.
The six-stage Women’s WorldTour event had been due to take place between June 8-13, but was initially postponed in March before confirmation of its cancellation came earlier this month But organisers will fill the void with three virtual stages between June 17 and 19 using the RGT Cycling virtual platform.
No riders have yet been confirmed as taking part, but the Trek-Segafredo team of 2019 champion Lizzie Deignan is among those to have signed up.
The list of 15 squads named so far includes three other WorldTour teams – FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope; Rally Cycling; and Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank – and a Great Britain national squad. Each team will field a three-strong line-up.
Dubbed the ‘V-Series’, the stages will be broadcast live online each evening, with racing scheduled to get under way at 7pm each day. A television broadcast partner is due to be announced next week.
Two of the three stages are based on classic days from previous editions of the Women’s Tour, with a 38.4km route to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, as well as 2019’s hill top finish in Burton Dassett in Warwickshire. The final stage will involve 35 laps of a short circuit based on London’s Canary Wharf.
Jonathan Durling, partnerships director for organisers Sweetspot, said: “We have been working with RGT Cycling since 2019 to develop a virtual version of one of our events to bring the race and athletes to a new audience, and as one of the jewels in the crown of SweetSpot’s portfolio of events it is great that the Women’s Tour has become the first with which we can do that.
“As soon as the COVID-19 situation hit and we were forced to postpone the Women’s Tour in March, we accelerated those plans and have worked tirelessly as a team to bring the inaugural Skoda V-Series Women’s Tour to fruition.”
Andy Murray will make his return to tennis at a behind-closed-doors tournament organised by his brother Jamie from June 23-28 in London, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said on Friday.
Murray, 33, has not competed since the Davis Cup Finals in November due to complications with his hip. He was targeting a return to the tour at the Miami Open in March before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apart from the Murray brothers, the LTA announced that fellow Britons Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund would also take part in the exhibition tournament, with matches to be streamed on Amazon Prime.
“We’re excited to be hosting Jamie Murray’s tournament ‘Schroders Battle of the Brits’ at the National Tennis Centre on June 23-28,” the LTA said on Twitter.
Earlier this month, the ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation extended their suspensions of professional tennis until July 31.
Australian cricket faces another round of cost-cutting to shore up finances hit by the coronavirus shutdown and no part of the game will be immune, board chief Kevin Roberts said on Friday.
Cricket Australia (CA) has already furloughed about 80 per cent of its workforce, while state associations have also made deep staff cuts in recent weeks.
CA’s financial outlook has improved with India’s four-test tour, worth an estimated A$300 million (£162m) in revenue to CA, set to go ahead in the home summer.
But Roberts said the board was still facing an A$80 million (£43m) shortfall due to COVID-19 and the high likelihood Australia will not be able to host the Twenty20 World Cup in October-November.
“So we’re focused on delivering the best season as possible noting that the likelihood of significant crowds is very slim,” he told reporters on a video call on Friday. “Ordinarily that would deliver well over A$50 million (£27m) in revenue to Cricket Australia.
“The T20 World Cup is a big question and that’s a factor of perhaps A$20 million (£10.5m) and … it’s likely that our biosecurity measures we need to put in place to deliver the season will cost in the order of A$10 million (£5.3m).”
Most CA staff remain furloughed on 20 per cent pay until the end of June, while the board’s executive team have taken a 20 per cent pay-cut.
Roberts’ leadership amid the pandemic has been slammed by former players and media pundits, who have accused him of exaggerating the game’s financial problems.
However, Roberts said further cuts were necessary to maintain investment in community cricket as much as possible.
“We’ve made a commitment to significantly reduce the cost base of Cricket Australia, unfortunately that means no area of the organisation will be untouched,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that there will be an impact on our people.”
The return of the top-flight game after its longest regular season hiatus since the Second World War was always going to be an event of some magnitude, a low rumble in the distance growing in volume, but the announcement of its return on Thursday afternoon was something else.
Major League Soccer (MLS) says it has given clubs the green light to begin outdoor training sessions in small groups providing they do not conflict with Covid-19 health protocols. Some teams resumed individual player workouts earlier this month as the sport looks to restart the season that has been shut down since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Clubs may begin to use outdoor team training fields for voluntary small group training sessions in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts,” MLS said in a statement.
“The sessions must not conflict with local public health official or government policies and provide the ability for players to step up their training while maintaining physical distancing protocols.”
Players must remain at least 10 feet apart and play in designated zones on the pitch to maintain physical distancing, with a maximum of six players assigned to a group. Coaches and staff are required to wear face masks.
NBA general managers reportedly are split over whether the league should finish the regular season when it resumes action after the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic or if the playoffs should commence immediately.
The league sent out a survey to all 30 GMs last week, and commissioner Adam Silver revealed the results Thursday to the same people who were polled, TheRinger.com’s Kevin O’Connor reported.
O’Connor published the results Thursday, citing anonymous sources:
Half of the GMs want to see the regular season continue.
A little more than half of the GMs would like to see the 16 playoff teams seeded first through 16th without consideration of conferences.
Given a choice of a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff teams or a World Cup-type group stage that would take the place of the remainder of the regular season as well as the first round of the playoffs, 75 percent opted for the play-in event and 25 percent for the group-stage option.
An anonymous general manager told O’Connor of the Thursday call with Silver, “There was zero commitment to any one plan. But it was a call to gather more information.”
An unnamed team executive told O’Connor earlier this week, “Adam isn’t taking the results seriously. Every team is obviously gonna vote for what’s best for them.”
The NBA announced last weekend that it was in negotiations with Disney to restart the season this summer at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.
It would be a “single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” league spokesman Mike Bass said. However, the NBA has yet to commit to a format for games when they do resume.
The 2019-20 season was suspended March 11 when Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, NBA teams had played between 63 and 67 of their scheduled 82 regular-season games.
Earlier this week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed having all teams return for five to seven regular-season games, leading into a 20-team postseason that would include a six-team play-in tournament.
CRICKET: T20 World Cup schedule viewed as ‘high risk’
The T20 World Cup may not go ahead as the leader of the game in host nation Australia revealed the schedule for October and November is under a “very high risk”.
Australia has announced its schedule for its international season, including a full tour from India and an inaugural Test against Afghanistan, though October’s Twenty20 World Cup appears likely to be postponed.
Cricket Australia (CA) boss Kevin Roberts indicated as much in a video call with reporters, saying “obviously, we’ve been hopeful all along that it could be staged in October-November but you would have to say there is a very high risk about the prospect of that happening”.
He added: “In the event that that doesn’t happen, there are potential windows in the February-March period, October-November the following year.
“And there’s implications here for the (International Cricket Council) over a number of years. So there’s a lot of complexity for the ICC to deal with.”
It comes less than a day after the ICC rejected claims the tournament will be postponed, insisting a number of contingency plans are being considered in light of the impact of Covid-19.
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie earlier this month cast doubt on it going ahead, believing the logistical hurdles would be too sizeable to overcome, but the ICC says it is investigating a number of possibilities.
A statement from the governing body said: “Reports of a postponement of the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 are inaccurate and planning for the event continues whilst a number of contingency plans are being explored in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the Covid-19 virus.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s men are due to begin their season with a three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe starting on August 9, while the hotly anticipated visit of India will see the sides play across all three formats between October and January.
In a packed calendar there is also set to be a Twenty20 series against the West Indies and a limited-overs rubber against neighbours New Zealand. Australia’s women are due to play nine white ball matches against New Zealand and India.
Mr Roberts said CA was “exploring all options” as it prepared for the season including chartering flights from other countries into Australia, creating biosecurity “bubbles” at different grounds and using only one or two venues for matches.
Australia are due to contest a five-match ODI series in England this summer but no agreement has been reached on whether or not that will go ahead.
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