Sean Dyche says he and his Burnley players are raring to go

‘Fitness? I’m not bothered. Let’s just crack on…we’re all in the same boat’: Sean Dyche admits football’s return isn’t ideal but he says he and his Burnley players are raring to go

  • Sean Dyche says he isn’t bothered about player fitness when football returns 
  • The Burnley boss said every club is in the same boat in terms of time frames 
  • Dyche claimed individuals must decide whether it’s right for them to return

In these strange and complicated times, some things remain simple. It was, for example, after the very briefest of meetings that the players of Burnley Football Club decided to come back to work.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche told Sportsmail: ‘We had a video conference call a couple of weeks ago and I just asked them what they were feeling. They said they were ready. All of them. I didn’t tell them my view. I just said, “What are your thoughts lads?”

‘A couple asked simple questions — simple enough for me to answer — and I said we would catch up in 24 hours and that anyone could talk to me or the doctor away from the group in the meantime.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche asked his players how they felt about returning to training

‘But they just said, “No, we are all fine”. So that was it. We are ready to play.’

As the Premier League edges towards a resumption, the voices of the dissenters have been shrill. 

Watford manager Nigel Pearson talked last week about the possibility of fatalities and suggested football was ‘closing its eyes to the threat’ of Covid-19. Newcastle’s Danny Rose has suggested footballers are being treated like ‘lab rats’.

Dyche’s view is a little more understated. He has read and digested the scientific advice from the Government and the Premier League and has chosen to trust it. More importantly, he has been guided by his players.

Dyche said his players were fine to return and were ready to get back to playing football

‘I feel for the people out there who don’t lead the life I lead,’ he said. ‘Those who are in apartments and don’t have a garden. That must be a challenge.

‘I am not going to start crying about my challenge or a young footballer’s circumstances. You try to respect each player’s opinion.

‘All I can imagine is that if a player has decided returning is not for him then I presume he is sitting in the house every day, not going out. Because if they are not just staying in then the obvious question would be, “If you feel OK (safe) to go out then why are you not training?”

‘That is the balance for clubs. Some players will have very valid personal reasons for not playing and some will be questioned. That’s for each club to decide. That hasn’t happened at our club.

‘If our players are clear-minded then we get on with it and if they are not, I would expect them to come and see me and I would try to work a way through it. There is no right or wrong on this. It’s for each individual to decide what is best for him.’

The manager said he presumes players not wanting to return won’t be leaving their homes

Burnley’s players have been back in since Tuesday, working in ‘pods’ of five with a coach assigned to each. Under current guidelines, there is to be no mixing of groups so Dyche himself, for example, can only observe one pod.

News that his assistant and friend of 30 years Ian Woan was diagnosed with the virus in midweek was unexpected.

‘Yeah, that’s strange as he has absolutely no symptoms,’ Dyche said. ‘We have temperature and wellness checks at the gate here every day before you get in and there was no issue.

‘But then we got the results of our tests. So he has been frustrated and now we are without him for at least seven days. But the main thing is that he’s OK.’

One manager in the Championship said privately this week that one of the daily challenges is to stop players hugging and shaking hands. It is part of the modern player’s daily ritual.

Dyche laughed: ‘Well, maybe we are not quite as tactile at Burnley but we have reminded them about their distancing and our structured sessions play to that.

Dyche’s assistant Ian Woan tested positive for the virus this week despite having no symptoms

‘Ironically we are keeping them apart at a time when the general message from the Government may soon be that small groups can mix. The greater challenge is that we can’t debrief or plan as we are with our own pods.

‘That’s a bit weird. When you can’t interact it’s a nuisance but we will get on with it. The players understand. It’s not as though this has been hidden. It’s been all over the news and if you don’t get it there must be something wrong.’

With the Premier League working towards restarting in mid-June, managers such as Newcastle’s Steve Bruce have suggested it might be too early in terms of fitness. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has agreed. Dyche said: ‘I am not bothered. We will get on with it. We are professional athletes and if that’s the challenge then that’s the challenge. I am not going to change the Premier League’s mind on the dates am I?

‘These are exceptional times. There are people far worse off out there in other businesses than we are in football. If we are not as good or fit as we would normally be then at least everybody is in the same boat.’

They say that players, even in the modern age, don’t miss a word their manager says in public. With that in mind, Dyche’s message is clear and during the break in the season Burnley have also shown the way forward.

The club’s commitment to their foodbank scheme has been ramped up and Burnley — one of the Premier League’s smallest outfits — have not furloughed staff.

‘We get criticised for not spending (on players),’ said Dyche. ‘Sometimes it’s valid and sometimes not. I have said myself we have to stretch the thinking of the club financially.

‘But the balance to that is that when a challenge like this comes, there are no financial problems. Everything is paid for and we can have a very good impact on the community and town.

‘The players back that up as well. Other clubs do it too but we are such a big part of a town of 78,000 people. We are a club that tries to help our people out.’

The 48-year-old said he was not bothered about player fitness after months without matches

Sadly, Burnley’s fans will not be able to repay the favour for a while given that football will return behind closed doors. Dyche does not underplay the significance of that.

‘You can’t deny that the crowd is part of the theatre of football and that players feed off it,’ he said. ‘It’s like a pre-season or reserve-game feel. But the players aren’t daft. They know that most games will be on TV. They will want to perform.’

Perhaps a little romantically, Dyche hopes football stadiums will be better places when the turnstiles are opened again.

‘Sometimes you go in stadiums and it’s on the edge of being really nasty and I hope now that when people go back in they will realise they are going there for a good reason,’ he said. ‘I hope people think, “I’d forgotten how much I missed football so now it’s back I can go with a more relaxed feeling and be happy to be back”.

‘I want fans to get involved as that brings the fervour and drama to the stadium but maybe this will take the edge off. I will be getting my share of stick again and I have my own gripes about football. But when it goes away I miss it. I have missed it during this period that’s for sure.’

Dyche has spent lockdown at home in the Midlands with his wife and two teenage sons. ‘I have spent a lot of quality time and I have enjoyed that,’ he said. ‘Bike rides, chatting.

The club have not furloughed staff and have kept up their commitment to its foodbank scheme

‘The boys are forming opinions about what is going on and I like that. I am on the road a lot so it’s been good to stop moving for once and spend that time.

‘I did about 10 days of jet- washing. A simple task to concentrate on, just to keep your mind off everything. But after eight weeks of virtual retirement, I am definitely not ready for that!’

Dyche is in his eighth season at Turf Moor and a run of four wins and three draws prior to the interruption has Burnley well-placed to attempt another top-half finish.

They are 10th, a point behind Arsenal and two behind Tottenham. Annual progress presents familiar challenges, though, and the 48-year-old doesn’t hide from that.

‘The idea of stepping forward at Burnley is difficult,’ he explained. ‘The finances are highly unlikely to change radically whatever happens this season. We develop players well but at some stage you do have to support those players with others you bring in. So it’s always a challenge.

The coach said he has enjoyed being able to spend extra time with his family during the break

‘We are not in a position to guarantee what happens next season or beyond because it’s just not like that. Every season is a big season for us. It’s small steps at Burnley, never big strides.’

As Dyche spoke, he was preparing to return to the flat in Lancashire he uses during the working week. It’s been a while. ‘I’ve been watching The Last Dance (about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls) on Netflix and will watch the final episode in my flat tonight,’ he said. ‘I am back in for the first time for eight weeks so I am on cleaning duty later.

‘The flash world of Premier League management, eh? Football is back and I am cleaning my flat. It will take some doing, trust me.

‘We don’t live in a grandiose world here. There is no cleaner. I don’t even have a PA so I am not worried about cleaning a flat. I think I am capable, let’s put it that way.’




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Holmes says Tyson and Holyfield should 'go ahead' with trilogy fight

Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes says Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield should ‘GO AHEAD’ with shock comeback trilogy fight

  • Mike Tyson has been teasing a comeback with a number of training videos 
  • Shannon Briggs says Tyson’s comeback fight against him is now ‘official’ 
  • But the big speculation has been about a third fight against Evander Holyfield
  • Iron Mike lost twice against Holyfield in the mid-1990s but could face him again 

Larry Holmes believes Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield should renew their rivalry in the ring if both feel capable of a comeback. 

Tyson, 53, has posted numerous videos of intense workouts in recent weeks, and a comeback fight has been announced by fellow veteran Shannon Briggs, 48, who says he will face Iron Mike. 

However Tyson, who retired in 2005, has been continually linked with a stunning trilogy fight against 57-year-old Holyfield – who has also been in training – and former heavyweight champion Holmes says the winner of a fight could land a bout against a current top-10 heavyweight.

Mike Tyson has been posting intense videos of training in the ring over the past few weeks

Evander Holyfield has also been in training with an exhibition bout reportedly on the cards 

Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes has no problem with Tyson vs Holyfield part III

‘If these guys want to do it, I’d say go ahead and do it, I’m not going to say don’t do it,’ said Holmes, who was speaking on behalf of media company Trcksuits.

‘They get a chance to show what they got and if they look good enough, they’re probably going to get an opportunity to fight somebody in the top 10 [heavyweights].’

In the mid-1990s, Holyfield stopped Tyson in the eleventh round in 1996 whilst Tyson was disqualified from their rematch a year later for infamously biting Holyfield’s ear and was subsequently disqualified. 

Should a trilogy fight come together, Holmes believes Holyfield would have the advantage due to those fights over 20 years ago. 

Tyson infamously bites Holyfield’s ear during the pair’s second fight in June 1997 in Las Vegas

‘Evander Holyfield is a good fight for Mike Tyson, but it’s also a bad fight because Holyfield knows him,’ Holmes said.

‘He fought him, beat him up. So Mike Tyson would have to worry about that, he’s going to worry about it.

‘It will be in his mind, ‘Holyfield can hit me with this, that, this’. He will try to be careful and that might hurt him.’   

Meanwhile, Briggs said in a Instagram live chat with a fan that a fight against Tyson was on the cards.

Former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs says a fight against Mike Tyson is ‘official’ 

‘I just talked to Mike Tyson, it’s going down, me and Mike, we’re going to make it happen,’ Briggs said.

‘It’s official, you’re going to see it happen, Brownsville versus Brownsville. Me and Tyson are going to lace up the gloves.

‘We’re going to rumble, rumble in the jungle. We’re going to let our fist do the talking.’ 

Briggs, who has not fought himself since 2016, added that the fight will be an exhibition bout for charity. 

Iron Mike looks set to face Briggs in his first fight in 15 years in an exhibition fight for charity 

He said: ‘The money is there, the money is almost there, I can’t say much more, I’ll leave it at that.

‘This is for charity, this is exhibition, I want people to understand. We all know it’s an exhibition and then we will see what’s left in the tank.

‘It’s for charity, it will be fun, but this is Mike Tyson we are talking about. He naturally hits hard, so he might hit me and he might break my rib. We have to be fully prepared.’




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Jonjo Shelvey says a Newcastle takeover would be 'good for the city'

‘Fans want a change of ownership – I’m looking every day to see what happens’: Jonjo Shelvey says a Newcastle takeover would be ‘good for the city’ but admits he does not know if the £300m deal will go ahead

  • Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey  is eager for the takeover to be completed
  • Shelvey revealed that the players haven’t been informed of any developments
  • 28-year-old spoke highly of Mike Ashley, saying ‘he has always been good to me’ 

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey would welcome a takeover of the club but admitted that he doesn’t know whether the deal will go ahead.

The Magpies are reportedly close to being taken over in a £300m deal by a coalition backed by funds from the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Mike Ashley has accepted a deal from the consortium, which is led by Amanda Staveley.

The proposed takeover has been criticised in some quarters, especially given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. 

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey says a takeover would be a major boost for the club 

Shelvey revealed that he is constantly checking the media for updates on the takeover and says that, while he wants a takeover to happen, he will carry on doing his job in the same way irrespective of who owns the club. 

Shelvey told The Beautiful Game Podcast: ‘We’re the same as the fans, we don’t know what’s going on. I read the internet and Sky Sports to see if there has been an update, We don’t get told anything, it’s just one of them, if it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

‘I know the club have been in this situation on numerous occasions but at the end of the day that club obviously pays your wages so for me it doesn’t matter who is in charge.’

Shelvey spoke highly of current owner Mike Ashley, saying ‘he’s always been good to me’

The 28-year-old says that if a takeover does happen it would provide the club and the city with a major boost. 

He said: ‘For the fans, they want a change of ownership. If that happens it would be great for the fans and for the club and probably for the city, but like I say, I’m literally looking every day to see what’s happened, and you do see these hashtag #CANS everywhere.

‘We don’t know, we’ll find out when the fans find out. It’s obviously a shame that a lot of the staff have been furloughed, but we made the donation to the charities, we got together with all the other clubs. 

Current owner Ashley has been heavily criticised by many Newcastle supporters for the way in which he has run the club, but Shelvey spoke in positive terms about the businessman. 

Shelvey said: ‘Mike’s always been good to me. He obviously sanctioned the deal to bring me to the club and every time I’ve met him he’s been sound as anything. I can’t really say a bad word about him.

‘I know the fans obviously don’t want him here but at the end of the day he’s been absolutely fine for me and I speak on behalf of the players when I say it’s the same for them. But it is what it is, whether he feels his time is up is down to him. I tend to stay out of business and words you see flying about on the deal.’ 




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Domenec Torrent says Bayern Munich ignored Pep Guardiola's tactics

‘Essential players wanted to act more urgently’: Pep Guardiola was OVERRULED on tactics by Bayern Munich’s stars before the 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid in 2014, claims old assistant Domenec Torrent

  • Domenec Torrent says players disregarded Pep Guardiola’s tactics in 2014 
  • They chose to ‘act more urgently’ than Guardiola’s more patient approach
  • Torrent believes their downfall was due to errors in defensive behaviour
  • But highlighted the importance of former Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm 

Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Bayern Munich, Domenec Torrent, has claimed that the players ignored their boss’s tactics in their 4-0 Champions League loss to Real Madrid in 2014.

The two teams went head to head in the Champions League semi-final six years ago, with Madrid winning the first leg at Santiago Bernabeu 1-0 and the second at Allianz Arena 4-0.

The Bavarians were taught a lesson in counter-attacking by a slick Real Madrid outfit who capitalised on defensive errors and went through with surprising ease.

 Bayern Munich lost 4-0 to Real Madrid to crash out of the Champions League semi-final

Domenec Torrent, Pep Guardiola’s assistant, claimed that the players ignored his tactics

Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Kroos, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Mueller (Pizarro), Ribery (Gotze); Mandzukic (Martinez).

Subs not used: Raeder, Van Buyten, Rafinha, Hojbjerg.

Booked: Dante.

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos (Varane), Coentrao; Modric, Alonso, Di Maria (Casemiro); Bale, Benzema (Isco), Ronaldo.

Subs not used: Diego Lopez, Marcelo, Morata, Illarra. Booked: Alonso.

Scorers: Ramos, 16, 20, Ronaldo 34.

MOM: Sergio Ramos.

Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal) 

Two goals apiece from Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo condemned Bayern to a humiliating defeat.

Torrent described Guardiola’s tactical approach as patient, while stating that the players chose to disregard their boss’s intentions and play more aggressively.  

‘Pep’s idea would have been a more wait-and-see tactic, but essential players wanted to act more urgently, more stormily,’ Torrent told Kicker.

‘There were errors in defensive behaviour when conceding goals, but there are such errors.

‘Maybe with Pep’s idea of ​​more control we still would have lost 0-4, maybe even 0-5.’

Guardiola has since reflected on Bayern’s humiliating 4-0 home defeat by saying: ‘I got it wrong, man. I got it totally wrong. It’s a monumental f***-up. A total mess. The biggest f***-up of my life as a coach.’ 

Torrent did, however, praise former Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm, comparing his importance to Guardiola as that of Xavi during his time in charge of Barcelona.    

‘Lahm was another Xavi for Pep at Bayern. Lahm could have played with us in Barca’s big phase thanks to his game intelligence,’ said Torrent. 

Torrent did, however, praise former Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm for his performance

Torrent compared Lahm’s importance to Guardiola as that of Xavi during his time at Barcelona




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FA chairman Clarke says fans WON'T return to football 'any time soon'

FA chairman Greg Clarke admits fans WON’T be returning to football ‘any time soon’ as he warns £75m budget cuts will be ‘sensible’ to offset a potential £300m deficit over the next four years

  • FA chairman Greg Clarke admitted fans won’t be able to return to football soon 
  • He also said that the game faces substantial changes to its whole ecosystem
  • Clarke also warned a £75m budget cut will be sensible to offset a £300m deficit 

FA chairman Greg Clarke has admitted it is hard to see fans returning to football any time soon.  

If the sport is to return to complete the Premier League and EFL seasons then all matches will have to be played behind closed doors to maintain social distancing measures. 

Clarke said supporters are the ‘lifeblood’ of the game but admitted the game faces ‘substantial changes’.

FA chairman Greg Clarke has admitted it is hard to see fans returning to football any time soon

All matches will have to be played behind closed doors if the sport is to return this season

‘The reality is that we just don’t know how things are going to pan out,’ he wrote in a letter to the FA governing council.

‘But with social distancing in place for some time to come we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem.

‘For example it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans – who are the lifeblood of the game – returning to matches any time soon.’

Top-flight clubs were told using 10 neutral stadiums will be the only way to finish the season

Clarke added that the ongoing uncertainty means that the board has agreed a ‘sensible’ £75million budget cut.

He said: ‘In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit.’ 

Top-flight clubs were told on Friday that using up to 10 neutral stadiums will be the only way to complete the season. 

But Brighton are against the proposal, claiming it would affect the ‘integrity’ of the league.

Others are thought to be in favour of playing at neutral grounds but without the threat of relegation. 

GREG CLARKE’S LETTER IN FULL 

I would like to start by thanking you all for the incredible resilience you have shown in these recent weeks.

It was announced this week that Gary Hoffman has been named as the new chairman of the Premier League. Gary has been involved in football for a long time, having held positions at Barclays and Visa as well as chairing the Football Foundation. Many of us know him well and look forward to working with him when he starts his role on 1 June, succeeding interim chair Claudia Arney.

You may also have seen this week that the French government has taken the decision to cancel the 2019-20 sporting season, awarding Paris Saint-Germain the Ligue 1 title. This news comes amidst ongoing speculation around the German and Spanish leagues, and how or when they might continue.

It is no secret that domestically, a huge amount of work is taking place to assess whether a restart to the English season will be possible. Whilst we would all like to see football return in the coming weeks, the health of our communities and the protection of the NHS must remain our priority and we will continue to be led by Government advice as we work together with stakeholders from across the game to assess any potential restart.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant financial impact on all sectors of society and sadly football is one of many sports to have been affected as a consequence. I want to assure you that we are committed to supporting the game as a whole through this crisis; especially the lower echelons, where the impact has been felt most acutely.

We remain in contact with colleagues and stakeholders from across both the national and professional game and will continue to work together to offer support as we look to navigate our way through this difficult period.

So far this has taken a host of different forms from advancing payments due, to giving extensive advisory support, to unlocking money from Government and other football stakeholders. We have other ideas in the pipeline such as an initiative with the Football Foundation that we will announce next week.

Our executive team has been building out different scenarios that we might potentially face as a result of the pandemic. The reality is that we just don’t know how things are going to pan out, but with social distancing in place for some time to come we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem. For example it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans – who are the lifeblood of the game – returning to matches any time soon.

I believe that the whole organisation has adapted well to cut expenditure for the remainder of this season. Now, we have to plan for next season and those after it. Due to the uncertainty, the only option is to introduce a budget cut based on potential losses of revenue which could materialise. If they don’t, then of course we can build the budgets back up. The opposite approach is not an option as once the money is spent, it cannot be recovered.

Having worked through the numbers with Mark and the executive team, the Board has agreed that a sensible cut to the annual budget is £75m. In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit. Clearly that will impact many of our plans as every area of the game will be touched and projects that we all value will be affected. There is no other way and I ask for all of you to help us to build this revised plan.

We will share with you as much as we are able to at the Council meeting on 21 May.

I can assure you that we will weather this storm and emerge from this crisis, as a more focused and even more effective organisation.

I thank you all for your continued understanding.    

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II as All England Club chiefs called the tournament off at an emergency meeting.

It was considered impossible for the tournament to be moved back to later in the year, or to be played without fans, and so chiefs have pulled the plug entirely.

This is the first time that Wimbledon will not be staged since 1945. Only one Grand Slam has missed a year since the war, the 1986 Australian Open, and that was for the technical reason of the date shifting forward from December into January. 

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 




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Jalen Green says new Pathway program is his 'best route' to the NBA

Top high school prospect Jalen Green said signing to the G League as part of the new Pathway program is his ‘best route’ to the NBA.

Green was wooed by Memphis and the college’s fan for months. Thousands chanted “We want Jalen” at the team’s first event that he visited this past season as he nodded in approval and acknowledgement. Even Grizzlies rookie guard Ja Morant was in on the sales pitch, doing all he could to convince Green to come to his city.

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Steve Kerr says Golden State Warriors treating season as if it is done

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that his team is operating as if their season is over.

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“It feels like the offseason,” Kerr said on a video conference call coordinated by the University of San Francisco.

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Aguero says Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona

‘He will continue, unless something catastrophic happens’: Sergio Aguero says Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona despite fall-outs with the club board

  • Sergio Aguero says Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona despite transfer rumours 
  • The Man City striker believes his Argentina team-mate will retire at Camp Nou 
  • Messi’s contract is set to expire in 2021 and has appeared frustrated this season
  • The forward has also had a number of disagreements with the Barcelona board 

Sergio Aguero says Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona ‘unless something catastrophic happens’.

The Manchester City forward believes his Argentina team-mate is happy at Camp Nou and has backed him to retire there, despite recent rumours linking him with a move away from the club.

Messi’s contract is set to expire in 2021 and he has had a number of disagreements with the Barcelona board, including former team-mate Eric Abidal.

Sergio Aguero says Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona despite questions over his future

The Manchester City forward believes his Argentina team-mate will retire with the LaLiga club

But Aguero is confident the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is happy to stay with the LaLiga giants.

‘Leo is a player who is already a symbol and legend of Barcelona, but things happen in football,’ he told El Chiringuito TV.

‘Many players have changed for Leo and he stayed at Barcelona. He loves the club, he identifies with Barcelona, he is comfortable and happy.

Aguero said Messi is already a legend and symbol of Barca and is happy and comfortable there

‘No matter how many things happen, he will continue. Unless something catastrophic happens.’

The club captain has often appeared frustrated this season and has voiced his disapproval at decisions made by the board in public.

The forward announced that he and his team-mates would be taking a 70 per cent pay cut to help manage the financial implications of coronavirus but hit out at the club’s for ‘trying to put players under a magnifying glass’.

This followed his dispute with Abidal after the director of football suggested members of the Barca squad were responsible for Ernesto Valverde’s sacking in January.

The Argentine admitted he felt hurt and attacked by the comments before Abidal admitted he shouldn’t air the club’s problems publicly. 

Messi had scored 24 goals with 16 assists prior to the season being suspended in March.

The forward has seemed frustrated this season and has had public arguments with the board




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Rio Ferdinand says 'it's over' for opposition teams if Man Utd sign £100m star

Rio Ferdinand has reiterated the importance of Manchester United signing Jadon Sancho and says ‘it’s over’ for Premier League defenders if he is allowed to team up with Marcus Rashford.

The Red Devils have long been linked with a move for the £100million-rated Borussia Dortmund winger, though Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward has played down the likelihood of any big-money transfers due to the coronavirus crisis.

But Ferdinand believes United are better placed than many of their rivals to spend big despite the current difficulties and is convinced that Sancho would take the side to a new level.

‘Financially Man United are in a stronger position than most, because of the way that the club is structured,’ Ferdinand told The Beautiful Game Podcast when asked which players he would like to see United sign.

‘I’d definitely buy Sancho. Could you imagine Sancho in that team with him drawing like two or three players to him and then Rashford is playing one-v-one? Oh God. It’s over.’

Rashford has not played for United since January due to a back problem though will be fit if and when the Premier League campaign resumes, and Ferdinand is in no doubt about how good he can become.

The former United defender continued: ‘Rashford could be up there with the best, 100 per cent, because he’s just got mad talent.

‘From a kid I’ve seen him play, whether it was up front, or wide or drifting about, he’s always had mad talent and at Man United, within the corridors, they have always known.

‘It’s whether you can translate that to being in the first team and he’s shown that he can do that. He’s just been unfortunate that he’s been in a team that’s in transition ever since he’s been in the first team, so it’s very different to, say, Kylian Mbappe coming into a Paris Saint-Germain team that is going to win every year, fighting for trophies on all fronts.

‘The confidence levels are there, there’s not a finding out period with any of the players there, they’re a consistent and well-oiled machine in their league. So it’s very different – and that league’s not as hard either. But Mbappe’s like major, major, major.

‘But Rashford, it seemed like Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] was getting the right consistency in the squad and that was when he wasn’t playing, which was the disappointing part.

‘So fingers crossed things can get back to normal and he can come back in to some consistency and they can start really getting back to the heights Man United were at before. And then I think you’ll see even more out of Marcus, because if I’m Man United I’m building it all around him.’

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Dana White says 'Fight Island' will be 'up and running in June'

‘We are putting an octagon on the BEACH!’: UFC supremo Dana White says his extraordinary ‘Fight Island’ plan will be ‘up and running in June’

  • Dana White has insisted his ‘Fight Island’ will be fully operational in June 
  • The UFC chief has been planning to host fights on the obscure location 
  • ‘Fight Island’ will allow the UFC to host events to circumvent lockdown rules
  • International fighters would be permitted to compete at the location  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Dana White has revealed his extraordinary ‘Fight Island’ will be fully operational in June as the UFC supremo plans to host fights in an octagon on the beach. 

Ever since the original location of UFC 249, Barclays Center, pulled out of hosting commitments due to the coronavirus, White has been planning to host the event in the unusual location in a bid to circumvent lockdown rules. 

He had neared an agreement to host the event, which would have featured Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje as the main event, on April 18 before executives from ESPN and Disney told him to postpone. 

Dana White has said that the UFC’s ‘Fight Island’ could be ready to host events as soon as June

White says that the location will see an octagon situated on the beach for the fighters

UFC 249 has since been rescheduled to take place in Jacksonville, Florida on May 9, but the 50-year-old is adamant that the promotion will hold an event with international fighters who are unable to enter the United States at the obscure ‘Fight Island’ location as soon as June. 

‘Fight Island should be up and running in June,’ White told ESPN. ‘So I should be able to start running international events in June. From May 9 to May 23, we’ll knock out four shows. And then in June we can start international stuff on the island.’

White revealed that the octagon will be situated on the beach and that top-class infrastructure is in place for the fighters when they arrive on the island. 

White added that he is happy to host events without fans to limit the spread of the disease

‘We really are putting an octagon on the beach,’ he added. ‘There’s going to be training facilities there for people. There are hotels. And the whole island is going to be built, all the infrastructure is going to be built for the UFC to come do fights there.’

White also said that he is willing to host events behind-closed-doors for the foreseeable, with tough restrictions in place on mass gatherings in the United States.

‘I’m not in a big hurry to get fans back in the arena,’ White said. ‘I know we can do this thing safely with no fans.’




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