Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis contracts coronavirus

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

Nottingham Forest have confirmed majority owner Evangelos Marinakis has contracted coronavirus.

The Greek businessman – also owner of Olympiacos, who are due to play Wolves behind closed doors in the Europa League on Thursday – attended Friday night’s Sky Bet Championship match against Millwall, where he reportedly met with the first-team squad.

He revealed on Instagram on Tuesday morning that he was now following the advice of doctors regarding self-isolation.

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A post shared by Evangelos Marinakis (@evangelos.marinakis) on Mar 10, 2020 at 3:47am PDT

Marinakis said: “The recent virus has ‘visited’ me and I felt obliged to let the public know.”

A club statement said he was diagnosed after first showing symptoms on his return to Greece on Monday afternoon, adding he did not show any symptoms while he was in Nottingham last week.

Forest added they were “seeking advice from medical professionals and the relevant governing bodies to ensure the correct measures are taken”.

It is understood an initial discussion has taken place between Forest and the English Football League, and that those conversations will continue throughout the day to ascertain what the situation is.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Greek Super League leaders Olympiacos were still planning on hosting Wolves, but the Premier League club have asked UEFA to postpone the fixture, the PA news agency understands.

A decision on the last-16 tie is expected in the next 24 hours, with Wolves reluctant to travel to Athens given Marinakis’ diagnosis.

The Greek government has enforced a two-week suspension of spectators attending sporting events due to the outbreak of Covid-19, with the game due to be played behind closed doors.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo told Sky Sports: “I don’t agree with playing football behind closed doors. If we have to go there, we will go, but we don’t agree.”

The match is just one of a host of Europa and Champions League ties due to take place without spectators.

Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 first leg at Austrian side LASK on Thursday and the second leg of Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 clash away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, March 18 will both be played behind closed doors.

So too will Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg between Paris St Germain and Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes, as well as the second leg of the Barcelona-Napoli tie at the Nou Camp a week later.

Roma’s Europa League game against Sevilla in Spain on Thursday will also be played in an empty stadium.

On the international front, the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava on March 26 will now be played behind closed doors.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina federation has confirmed ticket sales for this month’s Euro 2020 play-off match with Northern Ireland, which were set to go on sale on Wednesday, have been suspended.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27, though, is still set to go ahead as normal with the Football Association continuing to follow Government advice. However, Italy’s match against Germany in Nuremberg four days later will be played behind closed doors, the German FA has confirmed.

At least the next two rounds of Spanish LaLiga matches will be played behind closed door following updated advice from the Spanish authorities.

Games across the French leagues will be played behind closed doors until April 15, while the 25th round of fixtures in Portugal’s top-two leagues will also take place in front of empty stands.

Italy’s Serie A was one of the first leagues to be suspended following the outbreak and Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina has suggested the title may not be awarded to any team if this season’s fixtures cannot be completed.

“Without any order of priority, a hypothesis could be the non-assignment of the title of champions of Italy and consequent communication to UEFA of the teams qualified for the European cups,” the Italian governing body announced. 

“Another would be to go by the standings at the moment of suspension; third and last hypothesis, to play only the play-offs for the title of champions of Italy and the play-offs for relegation to Serie B.”

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus are currently top of Serie A. (Martin Rickett/PA)
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus are currently top of Serie A. (Martin Rickett/PA)

All domestic sporting action has been suspended in Italy after prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced at a press conference that the whole country would be on lockdown from Tuesday morning.

Sports bodies met with government ministers in the UK on Monday at a meeting chaired by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to discuss contingency plans in relation to Covid-19.

There has been talk Premier League and EFL games could be played behind closed doors, but Gary Neville, the joint-owner of League Two side Salford, has joined those rejecting that as an alternative.

“I do NOT support matches played behind closed doors,” former England and Manchester United defender Neville said on Twitter.

“If it’s necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive.”

The outbreak of the virus has also hit rugby league’s Super League, with Catalans Dragons’ match at home to Leeds Rhinos on March 14 to be played behind closed doors, although the French club are unhappy at the decision taken by the Rugby Football League.

Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said in a statement: “We strongly regret this decision which will hugely impact the finances of the club with revenues already anticipated in our annual budget.”

In rugby union, the Guinness PRO14 matches later this month involving Italian sides Benetton and Zebre have been postponed. Zebre were due to travel to Wales to face Cardiff Blues on March 21, while Munster were scheduled to host Benetton on March 27.

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