The Premier League shareholders met on Monday to discuss its plan called "Project Restart," which hoped to resume play by June 8. Photo: Reuters
The Premier League shareholders met on Monday to discuss its plan called "Project Restart," which hoped to resume play by June 8. Photo: Reuters

British sport eases towards return after government boost

By Nate Williams Time of article published May 12, 2020

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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. 

FOOTBALL 

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 season." 

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 was abandoned. 

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 resumed.

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

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. 

RUGBY UNION

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. 

BOXING 

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 overcome." 

OTHER SPORTS 

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 "terminal." 

dpa

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