Coronavirus wrap: Non-league clubs complain to FA over decision to void season

By PA Sport Staff

More than 60 football clubs from non-league and grassroots have written to the Football Association to express concern and displeasure at the decision to void results for the 2019-20 campaign.

The FA has faced criticism for cancelling the season for divisions below the National League and National League North and South, and for women’s football below the Women’s Super League and Championship.

South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson last week said he would consider legal action over the ruling, which is yet to be ratified by the FA Council, with his club one of 64 to sign a letter to the governing body.

Premier League club Newcastle have placed members of their non-playing staff on furlough leave due to the impact of coronavirus.

The PA news agency understands those affected were referred to the Government’s job retention scheme, under which staff are entitled to claim 80 per cent of their monthly wage up to £2,500.

Lancashire chairman David Hodgkiss has died after contracting coronavirus.

Hodgkiss, 71, is thought to be the first individual directly involved in professional British sport to die having tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesman confirmed to the PA news agency that his death was “coronavirus-related”, while a statement from the county read: “He was much loved by everyone at Lancashire Cricket Club and respected throughout the cricketing world.”

In boxing, Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight showdown against Alexander Povetkin has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 4, after all British events in May were called off.

The British Boxing Board of Control announced it had extended its suspension of all shows under its auspices, having initially shut down everything in April.

Whyte was due to face Russian veteran Povetkin on May 2 at the Manchester Arena, where Ireland’s Katie Taylor would have put her status as undisputed lightweight champion on the line against seven-weight titlist Amanda Serrano.

Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn reiterated the prospect of moving Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev back to July 25.


Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor’s bout against Amanda Serrano has been postponed (Richard Sellers/PA)

The clash is still scheduled for June 20 at Tottenham’s stadium, but the escalating health crisis – and a potential extension of the Premier League season – has made discussing a new date difficult.

Spurs have allowed their 62,000-seater ground to be used to support vulnerable individuals affected by the pandemic.

Elsewhere, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has become the latest golf tournament to be postponed.

The European Tour event was scheduled to take place at Mount Juliet from May 28-31, with former US Open champion Graeme McDowell acting as tournament host.

A meeting to help plot European football’s path through the crisis has been called for Wednesday morning.

UEFA has invited the leaders of its 55 national member associations to a video conference to receive an update from working groups set up on March 17.

One working group is looking at how the 2019-20 fixture calendar can be completed, while the other was focused on economic and regulatory issues such as adjustments to player contracts and transfer windows.

Under one proposal, Premier League clubs could complete the season in a World Cup-style camp.

Clubs in England remain committed to finding a way to finish their fixtures and avoid potential costs estimated to be around £750 million if no further matches are played.

One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location and effectively create a sterile bubble in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel and broadcasters allowed to attend.

The PA news agency understands this is one of many ideas under consideration, with the 20 clubs due to convene again by conference call on Friday.

Barcelona players have accepted a 70 per cent wage cut and pledged donations to help the club’s non-sport staff continue to receive their full wages.

Announcing the news on Instagram, Barca captain Lionel Messi wrote: “Apart from the reduction of 70 per cent of our salary during the state of alarm, we are going to make contributions as well so that club employees can collect 100 per cent of their salary for the duration of this situation.”

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish apologised and urged people to stay at home after going to a friend’s house this weekend during lockdown.

England cricket captains Joe Root and Heather Knight have issued a joint letter to fans in which they praised the work of NHS staff at the frontline of the crisis.

In the letter, the pair wrote: “In our positions as England captain we’ve witnessed events that have had entire stadiums on their feet, but this pandemic has shown us who deserves the loudest cheers.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the next two sale windows for The Hundred, scheduled to open on April 2 and 8, have been delayed.

Meanwhile, England Hockey has suspend all hockey activity until June 30.

Premier League chiefs are considering ways to complete the current season (Nick Potts/PA)