British sport eases towards return after government boost
LONDON - It has been a year like never before in British sport
as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the calendar but the UK
government has laid out a plan for a return to action.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a 50-page plan on Monday
detailing guidance steps for Britain to ease its current lockdown.
Under step two of the plan, which will not happen before June 1,
sporting events can return behind closed doors for broadcasting and
with distancing and health check measures in place - at least in
England, the other UK nations can elect to wait longer.
However, there will be some variation in plans across each different
sport as outlined below.
The Premier League shareholders met on Monday to discuss its plan
called "Project Restart," which hoped to resume play by June 8.
There was a proposal of the remaining 92 fixtures being played in
neutral venues but chief executive Richard Masters says all clubs
want to push for the normal home and away format.
"Whatever happens, there's going to be significant loss of revenue
for clubs. That is inevitable," said Masters
"We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in
various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the
All 20 clubs are committed to finishing the season because of the
money that would have to be paid back to broadcasters if the league
The figure was initially reported as 750 million pounds (900.9
million dollars), but now it has been indicated that broadcasters
could demand a rebate of 340 million pounds even if the season is
This is because some fixtures could be broadcast on free-to-air
channels for the public.
With no indication of when spectators will be allowed in the
government's plan, it could mean that all levels of football below
the second-tier Championship are scrapped.
Formula One has failed to get its season running since the global
pandemic with 10 race events cancelled or postponed.
It was hoped that the 2020 calendar could host two consecutive race
weekends at Britain's Silverstone track on July 19 and 26 after
starting the season in Austria on July 5.
An F1 spokesperson says it is in "ongoing and constructive" talks
with the government to seek an exemption for international
travellers, who under new rules must self-isolate for 14 days.
However, the BBC reported on Monday that there has been a financial
dispute between F1 and Silverstone despite the race fee of 15 million
pounds being waived by F1.
If no agreement is reached by the end of this week, the British Grand
Prix could be cancelled.
The English Premiership has indicated it plans to resume the top
division by July 3 with their showpiece play-off final held at the
national home of Twickenham on August 15.
However, because of the physical nature of the game in which bodily
fluids like saliva and blood can be present, it could take longer for
a feasible return.
That is why the Pro14 league, which has clubs in Wales, Scotland,
Italy and South Africa has opted for a later return in August.
Internationally, England chief executive Bill Sweeney says there will
be a loss of up to 107 million pounds in revenue if scheduled Autumn
Tests are played without fans or cancelled.
"It is a very significant loss of revenue and we are doing what we
can to mitigate it," he said.
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) has written a proposal
containing guidelines as it hopes to commission bouts from July.
The BBBofC says that events will be held without fans and contain no
more than five bouts with "no championship contests."
Fighters will be asked to wear masks before entry to the ring and
told not to spit in buckets in their respective corners.
There will be no ring girls or TV camera's inside the ring and staff
such as trainers and referees will be required to wear masks at all
times and be tested for Covid-19.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said the proposals provided "huge barriers to
Tennis and golf have only survived as recreational activities with
the Wimbledon grand slam event cancelled and The 149th Open
Championship also falling victim to the virus.
The England and Wales Cricket Board plan to resume domestic
competition on July 1 but all international tests are either
cancelled or postponed with the World T20 competition in Australia
moved to October.
British Athletics announced on Monday that it is cancelling its
annual Anniversary Games at the London Olympic Stadium.
The 13-man game of Rugby League has received 16 million pounds from
the government but is yet to state its plans for a return while the
British Basketball League (BBL) described its situation as