‘Incomplete English season would be an embarrassment’

Mateusz Klich and Derby County’s Tom Lawrence during a match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road, Leeds. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 23 May 2020

‘Incomplete English season would be an embarrassment’

  • Time has come for us to stop repeatedly framing the challenges, says Leeds chief

LONDON: Failure to conclude the Premier League and second-tier Championship seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be considered a “national embarrassment,” Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear has said.

Professional soccer has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak but the Premier League plans to restart the season next month while the Championship will vote next week to decide on how to end their season.

The German Bundesliga resumed last weekend without fans in attendance while other top European leagues are planning to restart their campaigns and Kinnear said it was time English leagues came up with solutions.

“England had some of the finest sports scientists and football administrators in the game and the time has come for us as a sport to stop repeatedly framing the challenges and start delivering on the solution,” Kinnear wrote in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“It would be a national embarrassment if the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A were to be able to complete safely and the first and fifth biggest leagues in the world were not able to follow suit if the context remained comparable.”

Premier League clubs started training sessions with small groups this week with a view of a possible return to normal ‘contact’ training next week.

Leeds are top of the Championship standings after 71 games and would be guaranteed promotion if the final table is decided by an unweighted points-per-game formula. However, Kinnear insisted they want to finish the campaign.

“If Leeds United wanted to be opportunist we could have seized on this ‘point-per-game’ commitment to push for an early curtailment in concert with some already very vocal self-interests,” Kinnear said.

“However, our intention has always been to do all we can to complete this season where we started it – on the pitch.”

German football

Separately in the Europe, Borussia Dortmund’s coach Lucien Favre said his club will again be without Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel when they travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday on the Bundesliga’s second week of action since it restarted.

Witsel has not recovered from muscular problems he suffered trying to regain fitness before last weekend’s resumption of matches.

But former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is fit again and available for selection as Dortmund aim to keep their pursuit of leaders Bayern Munich on track with a victory.

Giovanni Reyna, the 17-year-old son of former US international Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna, is also set to play some part after what would have been his first Bundesliga start was thwarted last weekend when he injured himself in the warmup before the 4-0 win against Schalke.

Favre also said he was still hopeful German international Marco Reus, who injured groin muscles in February before matches were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, could return to action before the end of the season.

“He still hasn’t trained with the team. We hope he’ll be able to return as quickly as possible and help us,” Favre said.

Dortmund trail Bayern by 5 points but face the reigning champions at home on Tuesday in a match that could prove crucial in deciding the outcome of the title race.

 


World number one Ashleigh Barty wary of US Open return

Updated 22 min 55 sec ago

World number one Ashleigh Barty wary of US Open return

  • Australian surged to the top of the rankings last year and has stayed there since
  • ‘I’d need to understand all of the information and advice ... before making a decision on the US events’
SYDNEY: World number one Ashleigh Barty voiced caution Friday about resuming tennis too soon, saying she needed more information before committing to the US Open in August.
The Australian, who surged to the top of the rankings last year and has stayed there since, said it was not just her but her entire team she must consider in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s exciting that tennis is being talked about again and things are moving in the right direction for us to start competing,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“But I’d need to understand all of the information and advice from the WTA and the USTA before making a decision on the US events.”
The WTA and ATP schedules have been on ice since March with action not set to resume until the end of July at the earliest.
Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since World War II, while the French Open has been shifted from May-June to September-October.
A decision about the US Open — played in New York, which has been a hotbed for the virus — is yet to be made, but its main draw is scheduled to begin on August 31.
Barty said she was concerned about travel exemptions for her support staff.
While players could be exempt from a 14-day quarantine period, it remains unclear whether that also applies to their teams.
“It’s not just me, it’s my team I have to consider,” she said.
On Thursday, Rafael Nadal insisted tennis should not start again “until the situation is completely safe.”
“If you told me to play the US Open today, I would say ‘no’,” said the Spaniard, who captured a fourth US Open and 19th major in New York last year.
“In a few months, I don’t know. I hope so. We have to wait for people to return to normal life. And when it does, wait to see how the virus evolves.”