Daily Briefing

Today’s back pages: five-star Man Utd march on and Euro 2020 could be put back a year

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 13 March

Coronavirus: Euro 2020 to be pushed back?

Newspapers, like governments, are struggling to keep pace with the impact of coronavirus and some of the papers went to press before the news that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi had both tested positive for the virus. 

Nonetheless the virus dominates the headlines with i Paper claiming that England’s cricket tour to Sri Lanka is set to be called off. The Independent reports on the cancellation of Sunday’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which was confirmed after McLaren withdrew.

“We share the disappointment of the sport’s fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned,” said champions Mercedes, one of the teams that had urged organisers to postpone the race. 

“However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority.”

Could this summer’s Uefa European Championships also be in jeopardy? The question occupies most of the back pages with The Guardian and the Daily Express forecasting that the tournament will be pushed back a year. 

The Daily Mirror and the Daily Star express “disbelief” that the Premier League has not followed the example of their European counterparts in aborting fixtures. 

However, it is reported that the Premier League will hold an emergency meeting this morning and that could alter the situation.

Coronavirus impact on sport: which events are cancelled, postponed or being played behind closed doors?

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Man Utd march on in Europe

On a normal day Manchester United’s 5-0 thrashing of LASK in their Europa League last-16 first leg would dominate the back pages, but these are not normal times and most papers struggle to squeeze in a report of their dominant display. 

The Daily Mirror does with its headline “the...err....crowd pleasers” above a photo of Odion Ighalo celebrating his goal in front of an empty stand. 

The match was played behind closed doors in an attempt by the Austrian government to contain the spread of coronavirus and so United’s latest emphatic victory didn’t get the applause it deserved. 

The Independent and The Times also carry photos of Ighalo celebrating with the empty seats but their win - and the spirited 1-1 draw between Wolves and Olympiakos in Greece - are overshadowed by other events.

Marler banned for ten weeks

The Daily Express and The Times report that England prop Joe Marler has been slapped with a ten-week ban for interfering with the testicles of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in last weekend’s Six Nations clash. 

Marler’s England team-mate Manu Tuilagi, who was sent off late on for a dangerous tackle on George North, has been banned for four weeks while Courtney Lawes, also cited for a dangerous tackle, escaped punishment. 

Describing yesterday’s disciplinary hearing in Dublin as “highly unusual” the panel found Marler guilty of “grabbing, twisting or squeezing” Jones by the genitals and banned him until Monday 8 June. 

French prop Mohamed Haouas, who was sent off for punching Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie in the face, was banned for a surprisingly lenient three weeks. 

The Times says there is “confusion as to what will happen to the bans if the Premiership season is halted due to coronavirus” because World Rugby’s regulations state that each week of a suspension must correspond to a meaningful match.

Today’s sport headlines

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