On May 16, treat yourself to the Ruhr derby
It’s a fierce rivalry and perfect for the resumption, even behind closed doors.
Credit: HERBERT SPIES/EPA
Schalke held the upper-hand in the Ruhr and indeed Germany during the post-war era but Borussia Dortmund’s triumph in the Westphalia Championship in 1947 renewed the rivalry between the two cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen. The Ruhr is to German football what the North East is to England, its spiritual hotbed and the struggle for local mastery has pitted the two massively supported clubs against each other in a fight to be seen as the true people’s club of the region and republic that transcends the disputes between the miners of Schalke and the brewers of Dortmund that originally kicked this off.
No spectators for any sport before vaccine, say Dutch
Sporting events in the Netherlands will have to take place without fans in attendance until there is a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said.
The global pandemic has infected over 41,000 people in the Netherlands and caused 5,288 deaths.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday organised sport could resume from Sept 1, but De Jonge said mass gatherings would not be allowed until a vaccine had been developed.
“We cannot yet mention a date for the last step, the mass gatherings. That is actually only possible if there is a vaccine and no one knows how long it will take,” he wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament.
“We hope of course soon, but a year or more is very real.”
The Eredivisie was brought to an end last month after the government extended a ban on public events, with no league title awarded and relegation and promotion scrapped.
Brighton still not persuaded by Project Restart
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber remains opposed to the idea of the Premier League season finishing at neutral venues, reports the Press Association.
It is understood the league has told its clubs that playing the remainder of the 2019-20 season at between eight and 10 neutral venues is the only way it can be completed.
But Barber says he remains opposed to the idea, and said: “I can’t be in favour of something which disadvantages our club.
Credit: DYLAN MARTINEZ/Reuters
“We want to see the league out on a fair basis. If we were relegated [on that basis] then that’s one of the consequences of playing in such a competitive league, but we would be disappointed if we were relegated if that competition changed after 75 per cent of games had been played.”
Barber added: “We haven’t seen the completed plan. At the moment we have got certain pieces, but not all of the pieces. It is important over the next few days that we start to see a complete picture of everything we are being asked to agree to.
“We accept there are going to have to be compromises, but we can’t support something that will jeopardise our place in the Premier League.”
Cricket: Mark Wood happy for nine-week isolation — if it allows the season to restart
Chief Cricket Correspondent Nick Hoult has been talking to England’s Mark Wood, who believes the England players will accept being locked away from their families for nine weeks to play cricket behind closed doors and save the game’s finances.
Plans are now firming up for England to play six Tests, six ODIs and six T20s in just over two months from the start of July in order to meet the game’s broadcast commitments with Sky and avoid estimated losses of £380m.
You can read the rest of the story, by clicking here.
‘We do not feel safe’ warns Serie A skipper
Brescia captain Daniele Gastaldello says his entire squad opposes resuming the Serie A soccer season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gastaldello told Italian daily La Repubblica: “we don’t feel safe. They’re asking us to resume training and to get back out onto the field right away … It’s putting all of the players’ safety on the line.”
Speaking on behalf of his team-mates, he added that a rerutn would not be worth it “if the price of resuming is us getting seriously injured.”
Most clubs in the Italian league are resuming training on an individual basis this week but last-place Brescia is one of the holdouts. Brescia is one of areas hit hardest by the virus but Gastaldello says he was never tested.
Live Q and A with Jason Burt at 12pm
A reminder that chief football correspondent Jason Burt will be answering your queries on the resumpton of football from midday. Submit questions here.
Australian Open organisers cannot rule out cancellation – AFP report
Tennis Australia conceded on Thursday that January’s Australian Open faces cancellation under a worst-case scenario, but said it was looking at a range of options in hope the COVID-19 crisis eases.
This year’s tennis calendar has been suspended until at least July 13 and, with global borders closed, there is uncertainty about when the international circuit can resume.
The season-opening Grand Slam is scheduled to take place in Melbourne from January 18-31, more than eight months away, and Tennis Australia said it would abide by whatever restrictions were in place at that time.
“We’ve certainly made no secret about the number of scenarios that we’re looking at,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
“We’re hoping for the best but planning for everything.”
Possibilities range from cancellation to imposing quarantine on overseas players and allowing only Australian fans into the event.
“We have to look at all the angles because a lot of the decisions will be beyond our control and related to government guidelines and restrictions,” she said.
“We do need to have all the protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety.”
This year’s Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II and the French Open postponed until the end of September.
The United States Tennis Association will decide in mid-June whether or not the US Open will be able to begin on schedule in New York in August.
Australia has banned all travel into the island nation for non-residents.
While talks have begun on opening up borders to neighbouring New Zealand, which like Australia has successfully controlled the epidemic, officials have said it could be many months before other international arrivals will be allowed.
Employees to return to NFL facilities
The NFL outlined criteria on Wednesday for teams to begin reopening facilities, as professional sports leagues across North America navigate their way through the coronavirus outbreak.
Tthe first phase will involve the gradual return of employees to facilities, starting with up to 50 per cent of non-player staffers, while maintaining screening and proper social distancing procedures.
“We have devoted considerable effort in recent weeks to developing a set of protocols for the reopening of club facilities,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo obtained by Reuters.
“Clubs should take steps to have these protocols in place by Friday, May 15 in anticipation of being advised when club facilities will formally reopen.”
An Englishman abroad
If, as seems very likely, Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off, Joe Marchant will have a great shop window to show off his England credentials. We spoke to the centre back in March.
Rugby returns with New Zealand derbies
Professional sport could be given the green light to start back up again in New Zealand as soon as Monday and, naturally, they are ready to launch a 10-round Super Rugby compeition between their five franchises. Reuters are reporting that Wales and Scotland’s tours could still go ahead as well. Read more here.
Credit: Getty Images AsiaPac
No celebrations, shirt swapping, or spitting
Today’s back-page sports story is from chief football correspondent Jason Burt, with details about what football might look like when it eventually resumes. Read the full article here.
Spitting, for example, will be banned during training and it appears certain that will be extended to matches. How the players will be prevented from doing so in games remains to be seen and especially with regards to what kind of sanctions they might face – whether it is simply a warning from a referee or further punishment. This will have to be formalised by Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL, the organisation that oversees the referees and match officials, but has not yet been discussed.
‘We might go back to the good old days’
Namaste and clapping could replace handshakes and high-fives when cricket resumes after the coronavirus pandemic, India’s Ajinkya Rahane said.
“I think we might go back to the good old days when fielders would still stand in their designated positions after the fall of a wicket and clap,” Rahane said. “Maybe handshakes will be replaced by a namaste,” he added, referring to the Indian greeting where both hands are brought together in front of the chest.
“But once sport resumes, you can’t take anything for granted. The safety of the fans will be of utmost importance. There will be changes in lifestyle while travelling.”
The virus outbreak has brought the sporting world to a halt, with the 2020 Olympics postponed for a year and cricket’s richest club tournament, the Indian Premier League, delayed indefinitely.
Rahane said the players will need around a month to prepare for their comeback, adding cricket should only return once there’s a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
“We would be needing three to four weeks of proper practice before playing any kind of competitive game,” said Rahane.”I am missing my batting. But obviously, cricket should only start when we get a vaccine to fight the virus.”