Daily Briefing

Today’s back pages: England’s Three Lions are caged for a year and the Grand National and Boat Races are cancelled

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 17 March

Southgate’s Three Lions are caged

According to the Daily Express there will be no England games for a year with the Daily Star also leading with the story on a back page headlined: “Gareth’s Lions caged”. 

It’s expected that Uefa will today scrap this summer’s European Championships in order to allow the completion of domestic leagues, the Champions League and Europa League in May and June. 

The rearranged schedule will mean the abandonment of the 2021 Nations League competition, which is expected to be replaced by Euro 2020.

As a consequence, Gareth Southgate’s England are unlikely to play again until the start of 2021 when they will require a series of friendlies to get themselves ready for the rescheduled European Championships.

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Grand National and Boat Race are off

The two latest sporting events to be curtailed by coronavirus are the Grand National and the Boat Race. 

The Daily Mirror reports that the annual tussle on the Thames between the crews of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, which was scheduled for 29 March, has been cancelled.

“This decision is based entirely on our concern for the welfare of our crews, our spectators, our staff and volunteers,” said an official statement. 

It will be the first time in 75 years that the rowing showdown will not take place.

‘Not a viable option’

As for the Grand National, which was due to be run at Aintree on 4 April, the Racing Post reports that too has fallen victim to the pandemic with the Jockey Club saying that “it is no longer appropriate to stage the event” in the wake of the government’s advice against mass gatherings. 

There had been speculation at the weekend that the National would go ahead without spectators, but Sandy Dudgeon, senior steward of The Jockey Club, said that plan had now been abandoned. 

“We were working on a plan to stage the Grand National behind closed doors given its importance to the racing industry and beyond,” he explained. “But following the new government measures confirmed this evening to help to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, this is not a viable option.”

It will be the first time the legendary race has not been run since 1993. That year animal rights protesters disrupted the start, prompting chaotic scenes that led to its cancellation and forced bookmakers to repay an estimated £75m in bets staked.

Today’s sport headlines

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