MLB cancels Cubs-Cards London series in June

Major League Baseball has canceled its London Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams were set to play two games at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium, on June 13 and 14.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement in a memorandum sent to MLB employees on Wednesday.

“We made the decision because it was unlikely the events would go forward, and timely cancellation allowed us to preserve important financial resources,” Manfred wrote. “We also have canceled agreements with service providers and delayed projects that involve large capital expenditures.”

MLB played in Europe for the first time last June 29-30, when the New York Yankees swept a pair of games from the Boston Red Sox in London.

The Cardinals won the National League Central last season. The Cubs made a push late but then faded to finish third.

Opening Day was to have been March 26, but MLB has delayed the start of its season until mid-May at the earliest. The NBA, NHL and all other major sports leagues are currently on hold. Like the United States, Great Britain has been hard hit by the virus.

MLB had already canceled two series scheduled for this season, in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The San Diego Padres had been scheduled to play the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 18-19 in Mexico City, and the New York Mets were supposed to play the Miami Marlins on April 28-30 in San Juan. The games will be rescheduled for the home teams’ sites in Arizona and Miami, MLB said.

Manfred also referenced last week’s agreement with the players’ association in which teams agreed to provide $170 million in advance pay and the union agreed not to make claims for additional pay. As part of the deal, if the season is scrapped, players would receive service time for 2020 matching what they received in 2019.

“The agreement provided much needed certainty to our clubs and avoided a confrontation with the players’ association at a time when our country has limited tolerance for petty squabbles,” Manfred wrote. “Most important, I truly believe that the agreement is a necessary first step toward getting the game back on the field.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Wimbledon 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

The All England Club have cancelled this year’s Wimbledon due to the coronavirus pandemic following an emergency board meeting on Wednesday.

Wimbledon had hoped to hold off making a final decision for a few more weeks but chief executive Richard Lewis announced that had been brought forward to an emergency board meeting at which it was decided to cancel rather than postpone the two-week grass-court tournament.

Main-draw play at Wimbledon was due to start on June 29 and preparations for the tournament are supposed to begin in late April, requiring significant numbers of people on site.

But the conditions required to play on grass means fans will have to make do for a year without Wimbledon for the first time since 1945.

Did you know…

Since the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877, there have only been 10 years where it has not been held, all of them due to war. Since 1946, Wimbledon has been staged every year.

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Specific insurance to cover for a disease pandemic such as the coronavirus means Wimbledon is in a good situation financially, and the Lawn Tennis Association would also still receive the usual surplus – which exceeded £40m in 2018 – that makes up a huge chunk of its funding.

The preceding grass-court tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham, Queen’s Club and Eastbourne have also been cancelled.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club said in a statement: “It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.”

Chairman Ian Hewitt, said: “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.

“We believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”

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George Foreman makes Fury trilogy fight prediction after speaking with Wilder

George Foreman has predicted Deontay Wilder can ‘easily beat’ Tyson Fury in their trilogy fight after speaking to the Bronze Bomber.

The heavyweight legend has been mentoring Wilder since his loss to Fury last February and even offered to train the American.

Wilder has already activated his right for an immediate rematch with Fury and Foreman was asked by TMZ if he thought the former WBC champion could reclaim his belt by beating the Gypsy King.

‘Not only beat him, [Wilder] can do it easily,’ he told TMZ.

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‘Give him another chance. He’ll show you.’

Foreman urged Wilder to get in touch with him after his loss to Fury and it appears the heavyweight took him up on the offer.

‘I had a nice conversation with Wilder, nice conversation with him,’ Foreman revealed.

‘We talked because I was in a position where I lost unexpectedly with the title in Africa [when Muhammad Ali won the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’].

‘Only I know what he’s going through.’

‘He’s gonna have to live with [the Fury loss] but I can show him how to live with that and come back better,’ Foreman added.

‘We talked a lot on those lines.’

Fury and Wilder’s trilogy fight is expected to happen later this year after the coronavirus pandemic forced the boxers to abandon plans to stage the bout in Las Vegas this summer.

The British Boxing Board of Control confirmed this week all events in May had been cancelled and Fury is in lockdown with the rest of the UK.

Several heavyweight encounters have already fallen foul of the health crisis, with Joe Joyce vs Daniel Dubois, Derek Chisora vs Oleksandr Usyk and Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin all postponed.

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Football agents expect buyer’s market in next transfer window

Football agents are still expecting to do deals if and when the transfer window opens this year, but they believe it will be a buyer’s market.

With clubs struggling to survive, the money and appetite is not there for the kind of deals which saw Premier League clubs spend £1.4billion last summer.

Many fans think it will be a good thing if prices and wages at the top of the market drop and football gets back in touch with reality.

“There will still be deals happening,” one agent said. “I have a few lined up and ready to go when the window opens.

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“Overall though, prices are going to come down. Selling clubs are going to have to be much more realistic. The money is not there like it used to be.”

At the top end of the market clubs such as Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund were expecting to generate significant income from the summer window.

Barcelona were hoping to sell Philippe Coutinho and sign a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez. At the moment though, they and Spain have much more important things to worry about.

Coutinho is on loan at Bayern Munich but they are unlikely to make the move permanent. Barcelona want more than £100m for a player who will be 28 in the summer.

That means there will be little resale value for any interested clubs.

Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian has good contacts at Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.

A move to those clubs is possible, but Barcelona would have to drop their asking price dramatically or it would have to be a loan with an option to buy deal. Interested clubs know that Barcelona want to sell him this summer. They know that it was a big mistake for Barcelona to spend £142m on him.

As far as Borussia Dortmund are concerned, they were expecting to sell Jadon Sancho this summer for £120m. Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich were just some of the clubs who wanted to sign him.

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Golf’s truck drivers have tales of cracked clubs, late-night rides and food poisoning

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • Graduated from Central Michigan

When the PGA Tour suspended activities due to the coronavirus, it halted what is affectionately known as golf’s traveling circus. Approximately 12 near-semi-sized trucks operated by equipment manufacturers drive from tournament to tournament throughout the season — building, adjusting and maintaining the equipment for the tour players.

That caravan is operated by technicians that haul the 42-foot, 76,000-pound trucks nearly 40,000 miles across the country every year.

The group of vagabonds spends 40-plus weeks on the road, 180 to 200 nights in hotels and eat nearly 700 meals away from home in any given year. While they are all competitors working for different brands, including Titleist, Cobra, Callaway, GolfPride and others, they’re a part of a small family that works behind the scenes to make sure tour pros are playing with the absolute best equipment for their specific specifications.

That also means they have some fireside stories of working with the world’s elite golfers and their travels over the years.

The tour truck drivers need to be available at the drop of a hat if a player needs his equipment fixed, tweaked or adjusted.

With more than 150 tour players in one place each week, there is the possibility for any situation to arise, something Ben Schomin, director of tour operations for Cobra, is all too familiar with.

Schomin was involved in one of those situations in 2015 at the Players Championship. Cobra’s truck driver, James Posey, was getting married in California on Saturday of the Players. Schomin and his wife were driving to attend the wedding, listening to the tournament on the car radio.

Rickie Fowler hit a shot that was mentioned on the broadcast. Minutes later, he called Schomin from the course. Schomin soon learned that Fowler, a Cobra-signed golfer, had bent his 7-iron after hitting the shot and would need it fixed or replaced for Sunday’s round.

The problem for Schomin was that everyone associated with Cobra who could get into the truck to fix it was at the wedding, himself included.

Schomin first called a friend who worked at the fitting center on site at TPC Sawgrass, but no one in the area had the shaft Fowler needed to fix the club. Even if Schomin could get to the Carlsbad, California, office, no one would be able to ship something overnight on a Saturday.

The only option was to leave his wife at the wedding, take a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, and get Fowler’s club fixed himself.

“The only people my wife knew at the wedding were the bride and groom and one other couple, so I’m trying to introduce her to people and then I was like, ‘OK, I gotta go,” Schomin said. “I got to Jacksonville around 8 or 9 in the morning, went in the repair shop, fixed his busted 7-iron and got it ready to go.”

While no one is sure how many times Fowler actually used the 7-iron in the Sunday round, no one thinks it was more than once.

Fowler and his camp were appreciative of the attention. Schomin would do it again, because it’s all part of the job.

Peter Bezuk, the lead driver for Titleist, has a similar story about Jordan Spieth cracking his driver head at the Masters. Bezuk was back home in Jacksonville with food poisoning, but the only way to get the club fixed was to drive up to Augusta in the middle of the night with his father and get Spieth a new driver head.

The drivers and technicians typically get the trucks to a tournament Sunday before the practice rounds, stick around to help the players with clubs Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and leave for the next venue Wednesday afternoon.

“A typical day, a Monday morning, a lot of times we’re already in conversation about working with a player, whether it’s Rickie [Fowler], [Jason] Dufner or Bryson DeChambeau,” Schomin said. “If they need to tweak their 3-wood, or get a new lob wedge in play, we’re trying to figure out their schedule, when they’ll be there, when they’ll register for the tournament, see their physio guy. It’s all very fluid, guys are respectful, but it’s very much a boy scout job trying to prepare for anything.”

Bezuk sticks to that schedule, but for the Masters he usually drives the four hours home to Jacksonville. Bezuk was at home when he got a call that the generator for the truck died. He drove back to Augusta to get the truck back home Thursday in order to get the generator fixed and ready for the following week.

While he was dealing with food poisoning and getting sick, Bezuk returned home around 5 p.m. and got a call later that evening that Spieth had cracked his driver.

He spent nearly an hour to get a spare generator set up, another 45 minutes to get the truck set up so he could work and find the club head Spieth needs.

“I got home at 11:30 that night and Jordan was getting on the range at 9 a.m. the next morning in Augusta,” Bezuk said. “It takes about 4½ hours to get there, so my dad picked me up at 3 a.m. because I was still sick, we head up to Augusta, get there at 8:30, give Jordan’s caddie the club and drive back home.”

That attention to detail doesn’t just apply to the level of service, but also the quality and perfection of the equipment provided to the players. Some of the tour players are more detail-oriented than others and some require a certain level of attention and precision with their clubs.

Burton Christie has been with GolfPride grips for 13 years and has had every request made by tour players when it comes to installing grips. Down to the slightest imperfection, the golfers can tell exactly when it’s perfect to their wants and needs.

“We make different-size grips, but these guys are so precise, they’ll choose a size but then we’re going to manipulate that through tape buildup,” Christie said. “Two-way tape that we use to install the grip on the shaft, you put a solution on top of the tape then slide the grip over the tape. I’ve had players say they want one piece of two-way tape, then at the bottom, the first 3 inches they want three wraps of tape, 2 inches from that they want two pieces of tape, then put another full two-way piece of tape over all that.”

Grips might seem like a simple piece of the golf club, but manipulating for feel and touch is important to a lot of the golfers. Getting that just right is up to a lot of the tour truck drivers and operators. If it’s off even the slightest bit, it needs to be fixed.

Despite having machines in the trucks to help the operators, touch and feel is a tough thing to replicate. So when a player gets a club exactly how he wants it, and it’s based on how it feels, the tour truck techs need to find a way to duplicate that.

No one has more pressure when it comes to replicating that perception than Aaron Dill, who works with Vokey wedges. Tour players rely heavily on that touch with their wedges, and Dill has to make sure the clubs are perfectly in tune with the lie angle and loft that it won’t throw the players specs off.

“Ian Poulter is someone who can tell you, ‘Hey, the lie is off half a degree.’ Something’s not right, or maybe it feels a little heavy,” Dill said. “And nine times out 10, they’re right and I check it and we make the adjustments. They’re so good at what they do and are so good at playing this game, they challenge us as club builders and engineers to do a better job.”

Dill and the other techs often take on the role of half club builder, half psychologist to figure out the perfect blend of what the tour players need and how to get it put it together.

Kevin Napier has seen that as well, working with Callaway. Phil Mickelson is one of the players on the Callaway roster and one of the more creative players on tour.

Napier remembers his first year on the job when Mickelson came to him with four 8-irons, all built the same way. Mickelson said he hit one of the clubs 2 yards further than the other three, so the Callaway techs checked the weight, length, loft and lie. Sure enough, the loft was a quarter of a degree strong on the one club.

“If we build something for Phil it’s usually a different club, like a really short 5-wood that he needs for the U.S. Open to get out of the rough,” Napier said. “Something he has thought about for a week or so and says it’s something he wants to try. If he wants a driver that’s an inch and a half longer just to see; he’s probably the most tinkering guy.”

Some players will come to the truck less than others, but some are in every week checking loft and lies. JJ Van Wezenbeeck is the director of player promotions for Titleist and travels to each tournament every week with Buzek.

Van Wezenbeeck has seen everything from the tour players and understands it’s all part of trying to be the best and play at their maximum performance levels. Justin Thomas, a Titleist golfer, usually takes advantage of the opportunity by getting his lofts and lies checked almost every week.

“I equate it to, why wouldn’t you start the week at even par with your clubs?” Van Wezenbeeck said. “So his caddie, Jimmy Johnson, brings the clubs on the van Monday morning, and we check them to make sure everything is perfect. So all Justin has to do is prepare for the event.”

Every player is different and requires his own personal touch when it comes to his equipment, and that’s where the traveling circus comes in. Each driver and technician is there to adjust clubs, grips and shafts, even if it’s to the half-degree.

The thousands of miles driven, the hundreds of meals together, the hotel stays — while the workers are competitors, they’re all part of a group that works behind the scenes for some of the most talented golfers in the world.

“That’s one great thing I do love about what I do — trying to understand these guys and why they do what they do,” Christie said. “You think about when you play golf, what you like about a driver or grip, you can’t explain it because it’s all personalized. Every guy is different, and we’re here to figure all that out with them.”

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Worcester Warriors lock Michael Fatialofa feared he would never walk again

Worcester Warriors lock Michael Fatialofa admits he still has a long way to go after fearing he would never walk again.

The 27-year-old suffered a serious spinal injury against Saracens in the Premiership in January and spent more than two weeks in intensive care.

Fatialofa has spent the last three months in hospitals but is now able to walk unaided.

“Walking is the tip of the iceberg with these types of injuries,” he told 1 NEWS.

“My hands are probably the hardest thing for me – getting my hands functioning. My left hand pretty much does nothing.

“From my neck down, I couldn’t feel anything or move anything.

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Schalke players begin training in pairs amid coronavirus shutdown

Schalke players begin training in pairs as they adopt social distancing measures to help their stars keep fit even amid the coronavirus shutdown in Germany

  • Footballers in Europe have been self-isolating amid the coronavirus outbreak 
  • But Dortmund began training in pairs this week and Schalke have followed suit 
  • Players were seen easing their way back into action with jogging and dribbling 
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Schalke have followed the example of fellow Bundesliga side Dortmund by training in pairs in order to stay fit during the coronavirus outbreak while reducing the spread of the disease.

The likes of Erling Haaland and Emre Can were spotted being put through their paces in twos on Monday, and the practice looks to have caught on in Germany as Schalke have returned to the training pitch using the same set-up.

German football is currently suspended, alongside most major football leagues across Europe, and will be sidelined until April 30 – although that return date is expected to be pushed back further.

Schalke’s training ground looked nearly empty as the players were spread around in pairs 

Two of the team’s stars practice their dribbling skills using poles after returning to action

The scene at Schalke’s training ground appeared eerie as players were spread out across vast open spaces to work on drills and fitness with one other player.

Players worked on their dribbling skills by darting in and out of poles as well as jogging around the facility as they eased themselves back into life on the pitch.

The club will be eager to get their players ready in case football gets back underway any time soon, with the team currently sixth in the table and European football at stake. 

There have been no Bundesliga games for three weeks, with the last game taking place on March 11 between Monchengladbach and Cologne. 

Another pair are spotted jogging around the facility following their period of isolation

A return to domestic action looks no closer to becoming a reality as the virus grips the world, forcing many countries to stay in their homes to prevent passing it on. There has been a total of 72,914 cases in Germany, with 793 deaths.

Football officials are hoping a sustained period of lockdown will reduce the amount of cases and fear around the virus to allow the season to be completed – even if that means behind closed doors.

After Dortmund players returned to the training field on Monday, former Liverpool star Can admitted it was a relief to have some normality back.  

Erling Haaland and his Dortmund team-mates were only allowed to train in pairs at their base

‘It’s important that we go back to the field, it doesn’t get boring,’ he told Sport1.

He added that footballers have a duty to give back to the public and do their bit to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 

‘It was very quick for us in the team,’ he said. ‘We footballers have a responsibility, we earn a lot of money and want to give something back.’ 

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

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.   

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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James Rodriguez favours Everton switch and Ancelotti reunion

James Rodriguez favours Everton switch and ‘the chance to link up with Carlo Ancelotti’ as Real Madrid star is linked with move to Premier League

  • Carlo Ancelotti managed James Rodriguez for one season at Real Madrid
  • The Colombian has struggled for game-time under Zinedine Zidane this year
  • With his contract due up next summer, Madrid are looking to cash in on him 
  • The 28-year-old is said to favour a move to the Premier League with Everton 

Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez is reportedly leaning towards a move to Everton above all other options this summer. 

The Colombian returned from a two-year loan deal at Bayern Munich last summer, but has failed to nail down a regular first-team place at the Bernabeu this season. 

With his contract expiring next summer, Madrid are looking to cash in and Rodriguez himself would be keen on a reunion with manager Carlo Ancelotti at Goodison Park, according to Spanish outlet Marca. 

James Rodriguez is favouring a move to Everton and a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti 

Statistics in all competitions according to Transfermarkt 

Rodriguez signed for Madrid after the 2014 World Cup while the Italian coach was still in charge, but only played under his stewardship for one year. 

Nevertheless, the report details that Ancelotti was keen on signing Rodriguez when he was Napoli coach earlier this season. 

Last summer, when a move away was also rumoured, Rodriguez reportedly opted against a move to the Premier League. 

Yet the 28-year-old has now seemingly changed his mind, with Wolves and Arsenal also interested in the midfielder.  

Rodriguez has not nailed down a regular first-team spot in Zinedine Zidane’s side this season

Rodriguez has made just 13 appearances for Madrid in all competitions this season, scoring just once in October. 

He missed two months at the back end of 2019 due to a knee injury picked up on international duty and he was also sidelined with a hip problem for a short period.  

His contract is up in June 2021 and he is therefore keen to leave the club this summer having been unable to establish himself in Zinedine Zidane’s second stint in charge.




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Newcastle furlough scouting and recruitment staff

Newcastle have closed their scouting department and put all recruitment staff on furlough leave.

A text message was sent to representatives and agents of players last night, advising them that the club’s recruitment department will be unable to respond to calls or emails while they’re taking part in the government scheme.

This includes Head of Recruitment Steve Nickson, who himself sent the message, with no indication as to when he and his staff will return.

Newcastle had already been planning their summer transfer business, with money set aside, but that has been put on hold for now.

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