Zampa bound for Victoria as NSW look to lure Tremain

Adam Zampa is poised to join Victoria in a bid to turbocharge his Test cricket dream as dumped NSW left-armer Steve O'Keefe declared supporting young spinners "a matter of urgency" if Australia wanted to win a series in India again.

NSW’s announcement on the weekend that they were cutting O’Keefe fuelled speculation that his place in the Blues’ squad could be taken by fellow tweaker Zampa, who has been linked for several weeks with a move from South Australia to either Victoria or NSW.

Adam Zampa batting in a one-dayer earlier this season for South Australia.Credit:Darren England/AAP

However, rather than return to NSW – the state in which he was born and made his first-class debut – sources have indicated Australia’s frontline white-ball spinner is highly likely to move to Melbourne and chance his arm with Victoria. In another development, highly productive paceman Chris Tremain could also be on the move, from Victoria to NSW.

The Blues are unlikely to recruit another spinner from interstate to replace O'Keefe, who will continue to play for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League and for Manly in the Sydney first-grade competition. Due to Australia's heavy white-ball commitments next summer they will have Test spinner Nathan Lyon at their disposal for some of the season but according to sources fellow spinner Dan Fallins is also in danger of missing a state contract.

He would rather have played another season himself but O'Keefe now wants NSW to back up and comers such as 18-year-old Tanveer Sangha and Fallins.

“I’m disappointed with the decision," O'Keefe said of NSW not offering him another contract. "I don’t agree with it. But there are a lot of guys who are going to get the opportunity. Some might say ‘they’re not ready for it’. But when I first played for NSW, many people would have said the same thing."

O'Keefe argues Australian cricket needs to support spinners far more if the national team wants to fulfil one of its major ambitions and win a Test series in India for the first time since 2004.

“I was the leading wicket-taker in the shield competition this year with 16 wickets and I played five games," he said. "I didn’t have a match-winning role or responsibility in any of the games. But when you go to these places [like India], it’s all on your spinners.

"They’ve got to be people who are mentally resilient. It is a matter of urgency. Let’s make sure when we pick shield teams, there are two spinners, not half a spinner, not an all-rounder. And make batters also face spin in the first session of a game and put the pressure on them to be able to get through it.”

Dubbo-native Tremain, 28, has enjoyed a successful stint with Victoria, taking 209 Sheffield Shield wickets at 23.79 since making his debut for the state in 2014. The right-arm quick has also represented Australia in white-ball cricket and was on the cusp of a Test debut in late 2018.

But after a lean summer in which he fell out of favour in Victoria, Tremain is being courted for a return to his home state, where he already plays in the Big Bash League for Sydney Thunder.

Tremain’s potential move to NSW comes after it emerged that Tasmania and Western Australia were both circling long-time Test quick Peter Siddle in a bid to lure the veteran away from Victoria late in his career.

Victoria should, however, be boosted by leg-spinner Zampa, 28, – who is almost guaranteed to earn a Cricket Australia contract after entrenching himself in Australia’s first-choice white-ball XIs. Zampa’s first-class record is modest but having been in and out of the South Australia shield side, the leggie is keen for a change of scenery and is comfortable in Victoria where he has excelled for the BBL’s Melbourne Stars.

Zampa’s white-ball commitments will continue to limit his red-ball opportunities although Victoria could do with extra depth in the spin department as left-armer Jon Holland approaches the twilight of his career.

Cross-code tyro Wil Parker impressed for the Vics on shield debut earlier this summer but could yet pursue a career in the AFL, while fellow teenager Tom O’Connell has been plagued by injuries after moving to Victoria from SA almost two years.

In other domestic player movements, SA’s Nick Winter has attracted interest from Tasmania.

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Redknapp blasts Spurs for cutting wages of non-playing staff due to coronavirus

Harry Redknapp has blasted his former club Tottenham over their decision to cut the wages of non-playing staff.

Spurs have announced that they are reducing the salaries of 550 non-playing staff by 20 per cent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The club’s chairman, Daniel Levy, has said that employees who have taken the reduction will use the Government’s furlough scheme ‘where appropriate’.

But Redknapp has heavily criticised the club’s decision to use the Goverment’s furlough payments while the players have not taken a wage cut.

‘I can’t believe it. Surely players should be taking a cut. This isn’t for big clubs like Tottenham,’ Redknapp told The Sun.

‘I thought the Government were going to pay ordinary people who are struggling and help small businesses who are struggling.

‘But you are talking here about a club where their players earn £10-12million a year.

‘Tottenham are owned by Joe Lewis, one of the richest men in the world, and his club are cutting the wages of all their non-football staff by 20 per cent. I can’t believe it.

‘Here is a club where the average player earns £80,000, £90,000, £100,000 a week.

‘Surely, players should be taking a cut.

‘I know their minds and they don’t want to be going it alone but they will do it if all their team-mates do it.

‘They can all afford to hand over ten per cent and I’d like to see the captain of every Premier League club call a meeting and say, ‘Come on, guys, we are all in it together, let’s donate to help our staff’.

‘They can all have a meeting by phone.

‘They all know the importance of helping out the staff and they will want to help – they know there are a lot of people struggling.’

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No imports? No problem for the NBL: Kestelman

The NBL could start next season without imports should international travel restrictions still be in place.

NBL owner Larry Kestelman told The Age that the league was prepared for the possibility that imports may not be able to enter the country ahead of the new season, which he hopes will tip off at its usual time in October.

Import and NBA hopeful LaMelo Ball made a splash in the NBL with Illawarra.Credit:Getty Images

NBL clubs will also have issues scouting and assessing potential imports should the NBA, G-League and European seasons not resume.

"There is every chance we may have challenges to get imports into the country," Kestelman said this week.

"If one year we end up with an Australians-only league, I don't think it would be a terrible thing and it may be great for some of our young talent to have more opportunities.

"But it could happen that we start the season without imports then find the travel restrictions are lifted halfway through the season and we can have imports after that.

"Being a league that makes decisions quickly means we have some scope for movement in the rules should that happen."

If imports are able to travel to Australia, there is also the possibility that some of Europe or China's elite stars may want to try the NBL as major basketball nations such as Spain, Italy and China have been hit hard by the pandemic.

South East Melbourne Phoenix chief executive Tommy Greer told SEN on Wednesday he could see a scenario where more high-level imports were in play.

"There is going to be a lot of imports from all around the world looking for jobs and a lot of those high quality EuroLeague imports may be looking for an alternate place to play," Greer said.

"It could position the NBL quite well."

Another potential spin-off could see some of Australia's European or fringe NBA players want to play in NBL and with the Olympics postponed to 2021, potential Olympians may also chose to stay home and make their case for selection.

It is too soon to know what NBA aspirants such as Jock Landale, Dejan Vasiljevic, Jack White, Deng Adel, Will McDowell-White or Isaac Humphries might do but if they miss out on the NBA and want to come home, but the NBL will happily accept them.

"Without a doubt, our rules encourage every great Australian player to come back and play here," Kestelman said.

"We would welcome all Aussies back with open arms and I think Australia will prove to be a great place to play post coronavirus.

"I'm very confident we will come out of this in good shape."

NBL Next Stars signing Terry Armstrong announced on Thursday he would be entering the NBA draft later this year.

Armstrong spent the NBL season with South East Melbourne Phoenix where he played sparingly due to injuries but made strong gains in his physical development.

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NRL clubs apply for JobKeeper funding

Penrith, Wests Tigers and Parramatta are among a number of NRL clubs to have lodged their applications for JobKeeper funding this week.

The development comes after the Tigers joined most of their rivals in standing down the majority of their football and administrative staff due to the coronavirus.

The Wests Tigers have applied for the federal government’s JobKeeper scheme having stood down most of the club’s staff during the NRL’s coronavirus shutdown.Credit:AAP

But it is unclear whether the business will have enough cashflow to pay its staff before the government reimburses companies in May.

"Panthers have applied for this through the ATO and are currently defining what this means for our business," an email to Panthers employees read.

In total, there are suggestions some $10 million of taxpayers' money could be injected into the NRL in a bid to help keep the competition afloat.

The benefits will be a major boost to the NRL and all 16 of its clubs, some of whom have grave fears about their survival during the pandemic.

As it stands, clubs have been guaranteed their monthly instalments of $1.2 million until June before the finances dry up at league office.

Players have been guaranteed two months pay, a quarter of which comes from their injury hardship funds, before they will be forced to source other income.

The NRL remains determined to restart play in July, resulting in the resumption of the broadcast revenue.

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Brady backtracks on call for Premier League season to be cancelled

West Ham chief Karren Brady backtracks on call for Premier League season to be cancelled and says games can go into July to finish campaign… as she reveals eight Hammers stars are in self-isolation amid coronavirus crisis

  • Karren Brady was widely criticised for calling for season to be voided recently
  • West Ham’s chief executive has now offered an alternative way to finish season
  • Brady says she expects training sessions and season to resume on April 13
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has backtracked on her call for the Premier League season to be cancelled and says the final games should continue into July.

Brady was criticised after claiming the season should be ‘null and voided’ as a result of the coronavirus crisis, which would’ve saved West Ham from a relegation fight.

However, Brady now appears to have had a change of heart and says not only does she expect football to resume on April 13, but urged games to continue well into July to ensure the season is completed. 

West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady has backtracked on her call to cancel football season

Brady was criticised for claiming the football season should be ‘null and voided’ recently

Brady has now called for games to continue into July to ensure the season is completed in full

In her weekly column for The Sun, Brady wrote: ‘The next Prem meeting is on Friday and the main topic of conversation will be when games can restart.

‘When we — all Prem clubs — last spoke, we agreed to get going again as soon as possible. And that games will run into July, if req­uired, to get this campaign finished.

‘This is the plan. This is what we want to deliver.

‘Players are currently not in training and housebound to comply with social distancing rules currently in place until April 13, when we expect training to restart.’

Brady also revealed that eight West Ham players are in isolation after showing mild coronavirus symptoms.

Brady revealed that five West Ham players are in isolation with mild coronavirus symptoms

The 50-year-old says players have been given strict instructions to stay fit during pandemic 

‘Following further Government guidelines, we have eight West Ham players in isolation,’ she added.

‘Although I am relieved to say they are all showing mild symptoms and, along with their families, seem to be well.

‘But it is no more than a handshake, sneeze or cough away from any of us, so no one should be complacent.’

If the season does restart in April, the Hammers will find themselves immediately thrust back into a relegation dogfight. 

The club are currently in 16th place, with just goal difference keeping them above the relegation zone, and Brady says it’s imperative that players remain fit so they can hit the ground running when they return. 

‘All the players, including those in self-isolation, are desperate to get back to training and play the games.

‘In the meantime, they have been sent a whole set of rules as well as club gym equipment.

‘We respect them as professionals who understand fitness is critical to the way they perform.’ 

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland is to take place behind closed doors starting until March 29.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 

 

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United, Liverpool or Barca for £120m star Sancho – which is best?

Manchester United might be winning the race for Jadon Sancho but Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Juventus are also keen on the £120m-rated winger… but who needs him most and where would he thrive best?

  • It was reported Manchester United are confident they will sign Jadon Sancho
  • But they are just one of a number of Europe’s biggest names who are keen
  • Sportsmail takes a look at his options and where he might be most successful 

Jadon Sancho’s future is up in the air ahead of the summer. It seems as though he will definitely be leaving Borussia Dortmund, but his destination once the season ends is unclear.

Manchester United were reported to be leading the race on Wednesday night. The likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus are all thought to be chasing the £120million-rated forward.

But which team needs him the most and where would he be most likely to thrive? Sportsmail has taken a look at his options and assessed them below. 

Manchester United are reportedly winning the race for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho

But a number of other top European sides are still involved in the race to sign the forward

Before coronavirus decimated the sporting calendar and brought the Premier League to a halt, Manchester United were on a roll. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had gone 11 games unbeaten and his plan seemed to be working.

Their youthful revolution saw the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, Daniel James and Anthony Martial line up for the win against Manchester City, with Marcus Rashford on the sidelines due to injury.

While Martial has seemingly taken the No 9 slot for himself and Rashford has impressed on the left, the forward line has been missing a consistent option on the right.  

Sancho would fit in perfectly on the right side of the forward line in United’s current system

James has had up and down moments this season – to be expected from a player as raw as the Wales winger – while the likes of Juan Mata and another young prospect in Mason Greenwood have also plugged the gap.

Sancho is a specialist on the right wing and seems to have a slot available for him in the first-team. He would also bring something United are missing.

Rio Ferdinand was enthused about the idea of the England international joining recently. He said: ‘I would take Sancho all day, to Man Utd. Whether we’ll get him, though… 

‘(He’s a) great player, great potential, English, he’s brilliant. I would take Sancho now.’

Sancho would also suit the dressing room. At just 20 years old, he fits the profile of the type of player United want to buy and would slot in alongside a number of his likely England team-mates.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tried to sign younger player since taking over as United manager

The only big risk for him is the number of players who have struggled to adapt to United after big money moves for him in recent seasons – see Paul Pogba as an example.  

But that seems to have changed recently. Bruno Fernandes has settled immediately while even those who initially flopped, like Fred, are starting to shine. 

The other concern would be Champions League football, although United look like a team with momentum when the action returns.

Sancho might be best served by making what seems like the obvious switch.

Sancho success rating: 8/10 

Chelsea

Another club that have been implementing their own youth revolution is Chelsea, with Frank Lampard bumping up a number of players from their academy since he took charge.

It has worked for them. They are fourth in the Premier League and on course for Champions League football next season.

Lampard has made it clear that his team need additions in the summer, though, after their transfer ban and they are likely to be in the forward areas, given the paucity of options available to him up front.

Chelsea are also thought to be keen on bringing Sancho to Stamford Bridge in the summer

The problem is that in Sancho’s position, Chelsea already have an emerging talent. Callum Hudson-Odoi is still building himself back up from a long-term injury but should take the slot on the right.

They also have Christian Pulisic available to them. An issue is that they will lose Pedro in the summer, while Willian seems likely to leave, but Lampard might want to focus on spending elsewhere.

Their defence has been their downfall this season and needs some serious surgery, while he will surely want to sign another striker behind Tammy Abraham. Olivier Giroud has played recently but is clearly not his favoured option, while Michy Batshuayi has struggled.

Chelsea have also already agreed a deal for Hakim Ziyech, who will join in the summer. Ziyech is not a winger but does already give Lampard another attacking midfield option.

Frank Lampard has also put the focus on younger players since taking over as Chelsea boss

The truth is that Sancho is better than the players Chelsea have. The question is whether that is a priority position. 

He would improve the side but would he do so as much as a solid central defender or a proper striker?

And would Sancho be given the nod over the homegrown Hudson-Odoi once he is back to full fitness? These questions leave doubts over Chelsea as an option.

Sancho success rating: 6.5/10 

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s famous forward line is not an obvious issue. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have locked down those three positions and work sensationally as a unit.

They have collectively fired Liverpool to a seemingly insurmountable lead in the Premier League and barring coronavirus cancelling it all, a first title in a generation.

Yet there are enough doubts about those players to give Sancho an opportunity if Liverpool want to make a move.

Sancho would have to break into Liverpool’s forward line if he moved to Anfield in the summer

For a starter, Xherdan Shaqiri will almost certainly move this summer, while Divock Origi – barring a few dramatic examples – has not shown himself to be up to the level. 

Takumi Minamino still needs to demonstrate the quality that made the Reds nab him in January.

Then there is also the issue of Mane and Salah and whether they might want to move on. 

Liverpool are obviously giants but the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have consistently sniffed around them.

If they were to decide to move on in the summer, Sancho would be an obvious choice. He would likely cost less than either the Egyptian or the Senegalese forward too.

Jurgen Klopp might want to bolster his options if he manages to take Liverpool to the title

Even if they didn’t, Klopp might want to bring in a new face to lift the team if they win the Premier League. Competition is the best driver for success.

This, though, assumes a lot of circumstances change and for Sancho, could represent something of a punt. Is it really worth swapping guaranteed first-team football for the risk of being stuck on the bench? 

Even if he backs himself as a player, breaking up that front three would represent a huge task for anyone.

Sancho success rating: 6.5/10 

Barcelona

Whisper it, because no one really wants to acknowledge it, but Lionel Messi is probably coming towards the end of his top level career. 

At 32, he still probably has time on his side but there are a lot of miles in those tiny legs and his performance against Real Madrid in the recent Clasico was less than brilliant.

He is still the greatest of all time, but Barcelona might want to start planning for a future without him.

They are also not sure whether Antoine Griezmann is the man in the long-term after an iffy first season, while they would happily sell Ousmane Dembele. Ansu Fati is not yet up to the level.

Sancho could have positions open to him in the forward line at Barcelona if he moves there

So there is a job there for Sancho, and it is one that surely appeals.

Even now, when the Premier League is undoubtedly the best league in the world on a competitive and commercial front, playing for Barcelona holds an unbelievable appeal. They are among the biggest clubs in the world, play at a sensational stadium and always compete for trophies.

While Quique Setien has not been sensational since taking over as manager, his commitment to playing football the right way means Sancho would benefit from some solid coaching.

There could be a berth on the right or the left waiting for Sancho. This is a slightly maverick option compared to returning to his home country, but Sancho showed strange decisions sometimes work out best when he joined Dortmund.

It is not the obvious choice, yet it might be one of the better ones for the Camberwell-born star. 

Sancho success rating: 7/10 

Juventus 

This would be one of the more surprising moves Sancho can make. Juventus have plenty of talent on the right, in Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has the left-sided berth locked down. It’s slightly similar to Chelsea in that Sancho would represent an improvement on Juventus’ options on the right, his natural position. 

And when it comes to Dybala, Juventus have already shown a willingness to move him on – as they nearly did last summer. The question, really, is whether the right side is the position they want to improve in the upcoming window.

Juventus may move Paulo Dybala on and that could open a spot for Sancho in the squad

While Maurizio Sarri clearly likes Gonzalo Higuain, having played a big part in him becoming a top-level player, the Argentine is 32 years old and not the fittest of players. Striker seems like the better position to splash the cash.

Sancho would undoubtedly do well at Juventus, even if there’s not an obvious starting position, and it represents another adventure for a player who clearly quite likes taking them.

Yet this move, of the lot, makes the least sense of all. They do not have a dynamic forward line to get the best out of him nor does he fit into their current style. Mark this one up as a nice idea but one that might not be the most practical in reality. 

Sancho success rating: 4/10 




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Real 'must move now for Pogba with United set to open contract talks'

Real Madrid must move ‘now or never’ for Paul Pogba as Manchester United are set to begin talks to renew the midfielder’s contract and could tie him down until 2022

  • Paul Pogba’s contract at Manchester United runs out in the summer of 2021 
  • They have an option to extend it by a year but Real Madrid sense an opportunity
  • Zinedine Zidane is a long-term admirer of the France international midfielder
  • He sees him as a player who would be good for the style he wants at Real 

Real Madrid must act quickly to sign Paul Pogba as Manchester United are set to hold talks over extending his deal, according to reports.

Pogba is a long-term target for Real, with manager Zinedine Zidane particularly keen on signing his compatriot, and they previously tried to sign the midfielder back in 2016.

Now, according to Spanish newspaper AS, they might be under pressure to make a move for him this summer if they ever want to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu.


Real Madrid must move ‘now or never’ for Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, according to AS 

Real manager Zinedine Zidane is particularly keen on bringing Pogba to the Santiago Bernabeu

Pogba’s contract with United runs out in the summer of 2021, although United hold an option to extend it by a further year.

But AS are reporting that if they trigger that extension, it would only serve to annoy Pogba and force him out – or see him leave for free a year later. 

Even if that happens, Real would not be able to get Pogba until 2022, by which point it is uncertain whether they would still be interested.

AS reflect this in their headline on Thursday: ‘Now or never’. 

United will have to try and renew Pogba’s contract this summer to try and avoid him entering the last year of his deal.

United are set to re-open contract talks with the midfielder in the coming months

Real have an opportunity due to United’s ongoing spat with Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, which has not been helped by comments from both Raiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over the last year.

The report suggests Pogba could leave United for just £73million, a drop on the £86m they paid for him four years ago.

It would represent a serious boost for Zidane, who sees Pogba as perfect for the Real side he is now trying to build – which is focused on rapid transitions from defence to attack.

The 27-year-old has struggled for action this season due to a niggling ankle injury that has seen him spend months on the sidelines. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaking to Pogba, who has struggled with injuries this season 




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Kenyon Martin Jr declares for 2020 NBA Draft

Kenyon Martin Jr, whose father was a former No 1 pick who enjoyed a 15-year NBA career, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.

The 6ft 7in Martin played for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, this season. He initially committed to Vanderbilt before deciding to play at the prep school.

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RV look for Friday resumption as jockeys told not to ride trackwork

Racing Victoria chiefs hope to find out later on Thursday whether or not the sport can resume on Friday.

Top jockey Mark Zahra has undergone tests to see if he has COVID-19 after informing stewards before Wednesday's Sandown meeting that he had come into contact with an individual who later tested positive to the illness.

Jockey Mark Zahra is being tested for coronavirus.Credit:Getty Images

His disclosure forced the abandonment of racing at Sandown and also Warwick Farm in Sydney on Wednesday afternoon.

Two top NSW  riders, Hugh Bowman and Tommy Berry, were sent by Racing NSW to be tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday night as a precaution after they shared a private plane with Zahra nearly two weeks ago. Their tests have come back negative.

Thursday's meetings at Kilmore and Pakenham were called off while the result of Zahra's test is awaited.

If it comes back negative, RV will look for racing to resume at Warrnambool on Friday afternoon and Pakenham on Friday evening.

In the meantime, RV asked all licensed flat jockeys not to ride at trackwork on Thursday and self isolate until further notice – essentially until Zahra result comes through.

"We are hopeful of an answer today [but] it can't be guaranteed," RV chief executive Giles Thompson told RSN on Thursday morning.

"We are hopeful this is a low-risk position with Mark …

"We are at the mercy of the system … but if nothing else changes from a health authority or government directive then we expect to be able to come back to racing as soon as possible if the result is negative as nothing else changes."

Thompson said that it could be quicker to get results in NSW because private facilities were allowed to conduct tests there, whereas in Victoria they went into a central lab system and were dealt with in turn.

He said discussions had taken place as to whether it might be possible to set up racing at an isolated centre, where horses and human participants – jockeys, trainers, strappers, TV crews, stewards were in lockdown.

Other states have implemented a geographical style of lockdown, he explained, but he stressed that in Victoria this wasn't close to happening and that the "complexity of such a plan was enormous".

Thompson said RV was trying to work out whether a variation – with people being locked down at home once they had worked at the temporary circuit during the day – was feasible, but stressed that such an initiative was "a long way away".

He said getting the number of horses required to race and establishing a self-contained quarantine area would be a huge challenge.

"You can lock away 400 horses, but how many race meetings are you going to get out of that even if you could successfully do it? In the thoroughbred world not that many.

"This is a long way away. It's a huge challenge … it's not imminent by any stretch."

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New date for Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder trilogy fight revealed

Tyson Fury is set to fight Deontay Wilder in October due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The heavyweights’ trilogy fight was originally pencilled in for 18 July in Las Vegas, but boxing is currently suspended in the UK and flights to America barred as the world tries to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

Metro.co.uk revealed last week that the July date was under serious threat and Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum has now confirmed the fight had been postponed.

Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

‘Clearly not,’ Arum told ESPN when asked if 18 July was still the Fury vs Wilder III date.

‘We don’t even know if the MGM will even be open by then. You could not guarantee the fighters that the event would take place on that date. We couldn’t convince them or ourselves.

‘Where were they going to train for it? It just made no sense. You just have to take a step back. How are you going to sell tickets? It’s absolutely ridiculous to say the fight is on when the Brits can’t even get there.’

MGM Resorts is currently closed in Las Vegas, with casinos shut and events put on hold until further notice.

Fury is currently unable to travel to America, which would present an issue for the WBC champion as his trainer, SugarHill Steward, is based in the US.

The British star has held his last four training camps in America, but the UK is on lockdown for the foreseeable future.

Arum confirmed October was now the target for the trilogy fight.

‘Everybody has to take a step back. Boxing is not isolated. It’s part of what’s happening in the world,’ Arum continued.

‘So possibly the fight will be in early October.’

Fury has urged people to join the fight to beat coronavirus and follow Boris Johnson’s pleas to stay at home.

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