In Brief

Sport shorts: MP blasts Premier League clubs for staff salary cuts and Wimbledon is cancelled

Ten things from the world of sport on Wednesday 1 April

1. Prem clubs living in ‘moral vacuum’

MP for Solihull Julian Knight says English football needs to take a “good, long, hard look at itself” and accused some Premier League clubs of living in a “moral vacuum”. 

BBC Sport reports that Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich have all opted to utilise the government’s job retention scheme during the pandemic.

Knight, who is chair of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “This isn’t what it’s designed for. It’s not designed to effectively allow them to continue to pay people hundreds of thousands of pounds, while at the same time furloughing staff on hundreds of pounds. 

“I don’t know whether or not the Treasury can legally turn down these applications.

“But at the same time I think football needs to have a good, long, hard look at itself and see whether or not morally this is really right and whether or not actually what they need to do is come to an arrangement with some of their stars so they can continue to pay their [non-playing] staff 100% of their wages rather than furloughing them on 80%.

“It sticks in the throat. This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre.”

2. Cricket’s ‘Hundred’ is in jeopardy 

The coronavirus crisis is likely to delay the launch of The Hundred, the flagship 100-ball competition of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). 

A £60m rescue package for the domestic game has been unveiled by the ECB and its chief executive, Tom Harrison, has described the present situation as “the biggest challenge the ECB has faced in its history”. 

It’s unlikely that any cricket will be played until at least June, a shutdown that will have a disastrous impact on a sport that has been struggling financially for years.  

3. Ronaldo to Man Utd or PSG?

It’s 11 years since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United but every so often - each transfer window - it’s rumoured that the Portuguese superstar may return to Old Trafford.

Despite it being April Fools’ Day today, the rumour appears to have some legs. Italian clubs are facing a financial crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic and according to Spanish newspaper Marca Ronaldo may have to leave Juventus “sooner than he intended”.

French champions Paris Saint-Germain are also being linked with a move for the 35-year-old striker. 

Not an April Fools’ joke... Ronaldo is linked with return to Man Utd 

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4. Mayor calls for football’s NHS support

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has written to Premier League and Championship football clubs in the capital requesting support for the NHS during the coronavirus crisis. 

The letter is a “historic move” by the mayor, says the Daily Mail, with Khan asking for assistance in three key areas: access to medical staff; access to facilities; and accommodation for health and care workers.

Khan’s letter said: “I do not take such requests lightly and I appreciate this is a big ask in what is a challenging and uncertain time for many of London’s football clubs. However, I am clear that we all need to unite and do what we can to support the NHS and protect the lives of Londoners.” 

5. NHS the big winners of Virtual National

The Grand National may be cancelled but the next best thing will take place this Saturday - the Virtual Grand National. Live on ITV at 5.15pm, the race will feature 40 horses and use CGI technology and algorithms to generate a result.

Punters will be able to place online bets on the Virtual Grand National and the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has confirmed that all profits will be donated to NHS Charities Together. 

Stakes will be limited to £10 per horse per customer for the event or £10 each way per horse. In addition, the Tote will be providing a pool on the race and donating profits to charity.

Why everyone’s talking about the Virtual Grand National

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the 2014 and 2015 finals at Wimbledon

Al Bello/Getty Images

6. Wimbledon is cancelled

There will be no Wimbledon this year after the All England Club (AELTC) confirmed the cancellation of the summer grass-court tennis grand slam.

Ian Hewitt, AELTC chairman, said: “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen. 

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond. 

“Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times.”

The next Championships will be held from 28 June to 11 July 2021. 

7. British GP decision at end of April 

A decision on whether the Formula 1 British Grand Prix can go ahead will be made by the end of April.

The Silverstone event is scheduled for 17-19 July but the coronavirus pandemic has already seen F1’s opening eight races of 2020 cancelled or postponed. 

British GP organisers said: “We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s. 

“Therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision. The safety of our fans, colleagues and the F1 community will be our priority and we will continue to engage with the appropriate authorities.” 

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8. Buttler to auction World Cup shirt

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will raise money for two London hospitals by auctioning the shirt he wore in last year’s Cricket World Cup final win over New Zealand. 

Buttler, who removed the bails to secure the super-over win for England, said: “I’m going to be auctioning my World Cup Final shirt to raise funds for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals charity. Last week they launched an emergency appeal to provide life saving equipment to help those affected during the Covid-19 outbreak.” 

9. MOTD rebrands as Match of Their Day 

BBC One’s flagship football programme Match of the Day will return this weekend with highlights of classic Premier League games.

The show will have a new name - Match of Their Day - with pundits picking out three memorable encounters. Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer will select his three classics on Saturday night at 11pm.

10. Back pages: Levy warns of tough times ahead 

The dominant story on the back pages is the declaration of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy that Premier League players will have to take a pay cut before long. 

Levy’s face adorns most of the tabloids after he announced that 550 non-playing staff at Tottenham will take a 20% pay cut - including himself. Not that Levy will feel the pinch. He earned £7m last year - £4m in wages plus £3m for the completion of Tottenham’s stadium move. 

Nonetheless, Levy is trimming his salary and in doing so he warned of difficult days ahead for the club.

Today’s sport headlines 

Spurs chairman Levy wages war and Man Utd keep tabs on De Ligt

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