Coronavirus wrap: Premier League and Formula One work on planned resumptions

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

Premier League clubs have once again committed to finishing the 2019-20 campaign, while Formula One managing director Ross Brawn has outlined plans for the sport to resume in an isolated environment in July.

However, top-flight clubs have been told that neutral venues would have to be used in order for the season to be restarted, the PA news agency understands.

On the whole the league’s ‘Project Restart’ plans were well received but it is understood there was still opposition to the idea of not playing the remaining 92 matches of the 2019-20 season on a home-and-away basis.

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The league stressed at a shareholders’ meeting on Friday that any return to training and match action would only happen if the Government gave the go-ahead.

A statement read: “The league and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with Government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and
managers.

“No decisions were taken at today’s shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding Project Restart. It was agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.

“The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the Government’s support.”

F1 could begin with a double-header at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in early July.

Following Friday’s announcement that the Hungarian Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors if it goes ahead at the start of August, Brawn said the sport is drawing up detailed plans to ensure races can be staged safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a massive logistical challenge,” Brawn said on the official F1 Nation podcast. “Running an F1 race is a big challenge anyway. Running an F1 race in these circumstances is new to all of us.

“We’re working our way through all the requirements to make sure we operate in a safe environment for everyone involved in the race.”

League Two Bradford have revealed they have been told of the growing likelihood that supporters will not be able to attend their games until 2021.

The EFL is in discussions over how to end the current season but it is widely accepted that any games will be played behind closed doors. And the Bantams have suggested that will extend to next season, whenever that may be.

“City officials have recently been informed of the ever-growing possibility of supporters being unable to attend matches until 2021,” a club statement read.

“And it is now highly likely that next season will commence behind closed doors.”

Sports leaders will spell out the impact of the crisis at a parliamentary session next week.

English Football League chairman Rick Parry will discuss how his clubs have been affected, while England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison and his Rugby Football Union counterpart Bill Sweeney have also been called to an evidence session before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday.

Later in the morning Dame Katherine Grainger, chair of elite sports funding body UK Sport, will appear before the committee, with Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth also invited to look at the impact of the pandemic on grassroots sport.

The ECB has suspended professional cricket until July 1 at the earliest, and has had to delay its new flagship competition The Hundred until next year, while on Friday evening it announced its recommendation for the continued hiatus of all forms of recreational cricket.

The RFU has said it expects to miss out on £50million of revenue as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, while UK Sport faces a challenge in funding Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Grainger said in March that her organisation was in “uncharted territory” because of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games until 2021, and that Government assistance will be needed.

The current funding cycle runs to March 2021.

Sport England chief Hollingsworth said last week: “The true nature of this (coronavirus crisis) and its impact on the nation’s future activity and the ability of the sector to support that, is still unknown.

“But it is what anyone with an interest in sustaining the nation’s well-being, and the positive impact that sport can have on society, needs to start thinking about now.

“Because how we shape our collective response to this challenge will not only determine future participation levels, but also give us the opportunity fundamentally to address and reverse those inequalities.”

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