Hail Rally gets underway with strong int’l field

Hail Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saad bin Abdul Aziz flags off Hail Rally. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 February 2020

Hail Rally gets underway with strong int’l field

  • The rally is running under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal

HAIL: The 15th Hail Nissan Rally, round one of the 2020 Saudi Desert Rally Championship, on Tuesday got underway at a ceremonial start in Hail City.

The event, organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), has attracted 58 cars and UTVs (utility terrain vehicles), one truck and 10 motorcycles and quads to tackle four selective sections through the An Nafud Desert from Wednesday to Saturday.

Top seed in the car category is defending Saudi Desert Rally champion, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, while fellow Saudi Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi tops the quad category and a group of Emirati riders start as favorites for success in the motorcycle section.

The rally is running under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal and the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Sports Authority.

SAMF Chairman Prince Khalid, said: “I am delighted with the progress we have made with the Hail Nissan Rally and I am especially happy that the event is a candidate for the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. It is a major sporting event in the Hail province in terms of entertainment and social and economic benefits.

“Since its inception in 2006, the importance of the Hail Rally has grown with its history. It was the first motorsport event in the Kingdom and was initiated by Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz, the ruler of the Hail province at the time.

“It has been present in the motor-sporting calendar ever since and gained international interest and official attention after the rise in popularity of rallying, locally, regionally and internationally,” the prince added.

“The rally was a round of the 2008 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and has been an important event for Hail province and for the Kingdom generally.” 

Local and youth interest interact in a positive way through motor sport and this has increased the level of interest in all sports and made them more attractive to private companies.

“The return to the FIA World Cup calendar will attract more international interest to Hail and bring factory teams to the rally. It will be another milestone for the Kingdom and will prove the real value of the rally and the essence of Hail province,” he said.

The event is being run under the patronage of Hail Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saad Al-Saud and Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Muqrin Al-Saud.

The first of four desert selective sections start at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Follow the rally live at https://chronomoto.hu/livetiming/crosscountry/


Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

Updated 01 April 2020

Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

  • One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors

LONDON: English football's major stakeholders will meet on Friday to discuss their options to rescue a season derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premier League campaign has been postponed until at least April 30 because of the pandemic, but the chances of a return in May look bleak.

AFP Sport takes a closer look at the various scenarios that are likely to be considered in the talks over if and how to finish the season:

One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel and broadcasters allowed to attend.

There is believed to be growing support among clubs for this plan, with nine rounds of matches potentially in line to be staged in June and July.

Fixtures would reportedly be played in one or two locations in the Midlands and London.

That could mean players and coaches being quarantined away from their families in World Cup-style camps to avoid infection, with stadiums, hotels and training facilities undergoing a deep clean.

A radical upturn in testing for the virus in the UK over the next two months is the key to this plan for a number of reasons.

Firstly, to ease players' concerns of contracting COVID-19 while playing, but also to avoid criticism of privileged professional players being tested with mild or no symptoms if that is not available to the general public and in particular frontline workers.

FASTFACT

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

If the curve of cases is not significantly flattened come the summer the optics for the Premier League to have medical officials at nonessential events would also not be good.

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

Instead of rushing back to action, waiting until the virus is completely under control before play resumes is the preferred strategy in this scenario.

With the virus reportedly set to peak in the UK in June, that could mean remaining in sporting lockdown until August or September.

Waiting would allow the current season to be completed in full, ensuring the Premier League does not have to repay an estimated £750 million ($930 million, € 842 million) to television companies for breach of contract.

But it would have a huge knock-on effect for next season, potentially leading to a shortened schedule in 2020-21 in a bid to be ready for the delayed European Championship.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the campaign should be canceled if it cannot be finished by the end of June.

"Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that," Kane said.

"Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season's not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season."

In what would be the worst-case scenario for the Premier League, some clubs reportedly want to abandon the current season immediately.

Senior figures in English club football believe there is "no place for sport at the moment,"  according to a recent report in the Athletic.

FA chairman Greg Clarke reportedly told the Premier League earlier this month he does not believe the season will be completed.

Declaring the season over could trigger legal action from a host of clubs, regardless of whether or not the standings are allowed
to count.

Liverpool need only two more wins to confirm their first league title since 1990 and hold a 25-point lead over Manchester City.

Canceling the season would scupper their hopes of ending a 30-year title drought, unless it was agreed to declare them champions anyway.

Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United and Tottenham, all currently outside the top four, would surely claim they had been unfairly been denied a chance of Champions League qualification.

Aston Villa would be relegated along with Norwich and Bournemouth, but Dean Smith's team would point to the game in hand that would lift them above Watford to safety if they won it.

In the Championship, the current top two are Leeds and West Bromwich Albion and they would be furious if a 'null and void' ruling robbed them of a lucrative promotion.