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2020-05-30T15:01:56.726Z

Townsend hails Palace’s ‘incredible’ coronavirus response

Andros has credited Crystal Palace for their “incredible” response to the coronavirus pandemic and their treatment of players.

Palace returned to contact training this week after top flight clubs voted to step up their comeback.

The Premier League action is due to resume on June 17 – with Palace scheduled to travel to Bournemouth the following weekend – after being halted in March.

And Townsend has praised the Eagles for keeping the players informed throughout their enforced break, with regular contact keeping players in the loop.

Photo: Getty

Townsend told Football Focus: “I support any player who doesn’t want to return to training, they have their reasons and may have health issues. But I can only speak about Palace and they have been incredible.

“We’ve had regular Zoom conference calls, they have relaid every bit of information. Everyone was confident we were returning to a safe environment.

“When we got the green light to return to contact training we were all delighted and now the hard work starts.

“When you are at home for seven, eight weeks and only mixing with people from your own household it’s difficult. You forget people are normal, you’ve been treating people like they’ve had the virus.

“When you go back to training you don’t want to get too near your team-mates but as the days went on and the tests came back all clear slowly we got back to the confidence our team-mates are healthy and safe.”


2020-05-29T16:08:45.813Z

Rodgers reveals coronavirus battle: I could hardly walk

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed he and his wife both battled coronavirus, stating the illness left him barely able to walk.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leicester on Friday, the former Celtic and Liverpool boss, 47, said that he began to feel unwell just after the 2019-20 Premier League season was halted due to the pandemic in March.

Wife Charlotte then developed the same symptoms, with Rodgers seeking a test after complaining of weakness and a loss of appetite, taste and smell as well as a headache “really isolated on one side”.

Recounting his experiences with coronavirus that lasted around three weeks, Rodgers compared the breathlessness brought about by the disease to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, which he did in 2011 as part of a Football League team following Swansea City’s promotion to the Premier League.

“I had no strength, I really struggled and a week after that my wife, she was the same as well,” he said.

“So we end up, we got tested and both of us were detected with the virus.

“So having explained this a little bit and the breathlessness of it, you could hardly walk, you know, it reminded me of partly when I climbed Kilimanjaro, when the higher you go you suffer with the acclimatisation and everything and you’re very breathless and that’s what it felt like.

“You know, walking like 10 yards felt very, very different.

“And then going to do a run for one of the first times, and I couldn’t. I hardly could go 10 yards.”

Rodgers is the second Premier League manager to have contracted coronavirus, with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta testing positive on March 12 – a key factor in the subsequent suspension of the top-flight campaign – before making a full recovery.


2020-05-29T14:30:49.670Z

Premier League confirm ‘neutral-venue contingency’ for season restart

The Premier League insist they remain eager for all remaining 92 fixtures this season to be played via the usual home and away method, though have confirmed a “neutral-venue contingency” is in place.

With clubs having unanimously voted to approve the return of contact training, on Thursday it was confirmed that the 2019-20 top-flight season – suspended since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic – would provisionally resume behind closed doors next month, with the first pair of fixtures taking place on June 17.

And while the majority of matches – including all due to take place in London – are scheduled to be played at clubs’ home stadiums, six fixtures deemed as “high-risk” looked set to be moved to neutral venues, with the country’s most senior football police officer Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts stressing the need to balance the needs of football with minimising the demand on policing.

The matches in question are Manchester City vs Liverpool; City vs Newcastle; Manchester United vs Sheffield United, Newcastle vs Liverpool and Everton vs Liverpool, raising the prospect of the Reds sealing their first league title for 30 years at a neural stadium.

Addressing the issue in a statement released on Friday afternoon, the Premier League said that discussions with police were continuing.

“The Premier League’s ambition is to complete all of our remaining fixtures this season home and away, where possible,” the statement read.

“We are working with our clubs to ensure risks are assessed and minimised, while cooperating with the police at a local and national level.

“Discussions with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and UK Football Policing Unit have been positive and are continuing.

“We are prepared for all outcomes and have a neutral-venue contingency.”


2020-05-29T12:55:31.746Z

Premier League chief hopeful over fan return next season
 

Photo: Liverpool FC
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is optimistic that fans will be able to return to stadiums next season, though warned it could be on a phased basis.

Top-flight clubs on Thursday supported a return date of the 2019-20 season on June 17 , with the aim to complete the campaign before the end of July.~

The return of football is subject to government approval, and will be behind closed doors for the remainder of the season with all 92 games shown live on TV in their own slots.~

“No one knows when matches will move away from the behind-closed-doors model and it is right to have contingency plans in place,” Masters, who described Thursday’s discussions as “intense” but that clubs are working as a collective, told Sky Sports.

“But there is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will see fans back in the stadiums next season and it may happen on a phased basis.

“Hopefully it will be a huge morale boost and that is what we’ve been working towards.

“We’ve got some incredible fans in this country and we all know the Premier League as we know and love it won’t be fully back until we have fans back through the turnstiles.”

A number of clubs, including Liverpool, could be forced to play their games at neutral venues despite the preference of the Premier League to play the games at their own grounds after fears were raised by police forces.

Masters is confident the Premier League will be able to mitigate some of those fears, and expects a decision soon.

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Latest coronavirus sport news (via the Press Association)

The Premier League announced its first all-clear round of Covid-19 testing on Saturday, underlining the optimism of the Government’s earlier message that elite sport was back on track.

A total of 1,130 players and club personnel were tested on Thursday and Friday, with no positive results. The previous three rounds of testing had yielded 12 positive tests out of 2,752.


This bout of testing was the largest yet, with each club’s maximum allocation upped from 50 to 60, and also the first to take place since the unanimous vote to begin contact training.

There was a reminder of virus’ continued presence by the EFL’s subsequent results, which brought 10 positive cases from 1,058 in the Championship and seven more from just 135 taken by those in League Two.

But for now, the absence of any live cases in the top-flight will be seen as a positive for the scheduled restart date of June 17.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, appeared at the daily Downing Street briefing to announce that competitive sport was being approved for a behind-closed-doors return from next week.

Dowden said each individual sport would make its own judgement on when to get going safely, but offered published guidance applicable to all disciplines and produced in consultation with Public Health England.

“Two months after sport stopped and after weeks of round the clock discussion with medical experts and professional sports bodies, I’m delighted to announce today the Government has published guidance which allows competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from Monday at the earliest,” said Dowden.

“Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly.”

Dowden later added: “The British sporting recovery has begun.”

Horse racing will lead the way with a 10-race card at Newcastle the first such meeting since March 17.

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust outlined his hopes that the change in circumstance would be a boon for the nation’s morale.

“I’m sure the return of racing will be welcomed by all those who’ve missed the excitement of live sport and the majestic sight of racehorses running at full gallop,” he said.

“We hope it will lift the nation’s spirits in difficult times and look forward to seeing our owners and racing fans back at racecourses as soon as that’s possible.”

At present those two groups will be kept away from venues that are subject to strict protocols, but the news is still an overwhelming positive.

“This is an important stage towards a complete return for our industry and will help protect livelihoods and businesses,” said Rust.

“There is still a tough battle ahead before we can get fully back in business, but this is a resilient and world-leading industry and we are ready for the task.”

The England cricket team also had good news, with Cricket West Indies granting approval in principle for the delayed three-match Test series to take place in July.


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