Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

Premier League teams are now able to train as a group in full contact sessions.

It’s after shareholders voted unanimously to move on to the next stage of “Project Restart”.

Players will be able to tackle but have also been asked minimise any unnecessary close contact.

Discussions between clubs and other stakeholders over when to resume the season are ongoing which the Premier League statement says will be ‘when conditions allow’.

A start date of June 19th or June 26th is expected for the resumption of the Premier League.

=

Which ever date is selected, there could be a bonanza in store for TV viewers, with matches potentially being staggered across 5 time slots on Saturdays and Sundays.

It’s possible that matches will be staged at Noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm each Saturday and Sunday, with some games played at 6pm and 8pm during midweek.

There are also further talk to discuss the possibility of matches being shown on free-to air channels.

+++

After announcing the decision to allow full contact sessions, the Premier League’s third round of coronavirus test results are expected to be made public later today.

So far eight people have tested positive after 1,744 tests over two rounds.

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher thinks players’ fears will have been eased by the low levels of positive tests so far:

Apart from potential health concerns, fitness levels are another factor for players and coaches to take into account.

Without any games or full training sessions for close to 3 months, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville says match fitness won’t be a factor when the season resumes.

The takeover of Newcastle United by a fund backed by the Government of Saudi Arabia could be in doubt after the World Trade Organisation found that the state was involved in illegal streaming of Premier League games, a link the Saudis deny.

+++

Meanwhile – Niall Quinn is set to meet with some League of Ireland players to discuss their concerns around the delay to finalise plans for a return to action.

The four Irish clubs that have qualified for Europe all underwent Covid-19 testing this week in the first step on the way to getting back.

The Irish Independent reports that the FAI’s interim deputy CEO will hold a conference call with the players on Friday.

+++

Former Rangers boss Walter Smith hopes Celtic winning 9 titles in a row will spur his old team on next season.

He was in charge when the Ibrox side secured 9 succesive top flight crowns in the 90s.

And Smith told Sky Sports News, he hopes Rangers can prevent Celtic setting a new record

 

GAELIC GAMES

Cork footballer Ciaran Sheehan has urged caution around a return to play for senior intercounty players.

GAA president John Horan has hinted that it could be next year before there is any competitive action but said that it will be October at the earliest.

Former Meath footballer Colm O’Rourke said at the weekend he believed there could be games before the end of the summer.

Sheehan – who returned to Ireland last year after six years playing AFL – wants player welfare prioritised when plans for a return to action are being drawn up

 

RUGBY

London Irish player Sean O’Brien believes rugby will be one of the last sports to return in the UK because of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile Munster have paused their season ticket scheme for the 2020 / 2021 campaign as rugby counts the cost of the pandemic.

The former CEO of the English Rugby Football Union, Francis Baron, has proposed a one off tournament involving all World nations in Britain and Ireland in June and July of next year that would help raise funds for global unions.

TENNIS

Professional tennis will return in the UK at the start of July.

The LTA has announced that it will put on four, three-day tour events that will take place behind closed doors at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

Each tournament will be open to 32 players – 16 men and 16 women.

 

HORSE RACING

And there have been a total of 369 entries submitted for the return of horse racing in the UK at Newcastle next Monday.

Only 120 runners will be permitted on the day.