Premier League to donate £20m to NHS amid coronavirus crisis

The Premier League have agreed to donate £20m to the NHS to help support the relief efforts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The global pandemic has decimated sporting schedules with leagues across all sports shutting down en masse as the virus continues to spread all over the world.

Attention has turned to what football can do to help other areas of society that are struggling to cope.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock called on players to take wage cuts or deferrals on Thursday with the league now confirming that they will make a sizeable donation to help staff on the frontline.

“Further to that assistance, the League remains committed to supporting the National Health Service, its staff and helping people in communities, not least those who are most vulnerable,” a statement read.

“The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances.

“In consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20 million to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.

“This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.”

Captains of all 20 clubs – led by skipper of league leaders Liverpool Jordan Henderson – have also met via conference call in recent days with an agreement over a plan to donate further money likely.

Clubs have also now unanimously agreed to consult with their players concerning a 30 per cent wage deferral to assist with the payment of non-playing staff during the pandemic.

“In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019-20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration,” the statement continued.

“This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change. The league will be in regular contact with the PFA and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the league, players and club representatives.”

It has also been acknowledged that the season will not begin again in May, with the restart date to be kept under constant review.

The league also confirmed an immediate advance of £125million to the EFL and the National League as they continue to sharply feel the pinch of the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

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Premier League statement IN FULL: Restart date, player wages, NHS donation, £125m EFL help

The Premier League have released a fresh statement regarding the current situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, insisting they will only return when safe to do so. Pledges were also made to held fund the EFL and National League with clubs struggling for revenue with no games being played.

A recent hot topic has been wage deferrals for Premier League players and the statement announced they would approach everyone about taking a 30 per cent wage cut.

A restart date no earlier than April 30 has also been pushed back with games unlikely to start again before the beginning of May.

A potential return is expected to be under constant review with dialogue to be had with the government on a regular basis.

Below is the FULL statement from the Premier League following the shareholders meeting.

JUST IN: Man Utd ace Hannibal Mejbri tipped to break into first team soon

 

Season restart

It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.

The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.

However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.

The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for The FA, EFL and National League were considered at today’s meeting.

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Consulting players

In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019/20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.

This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change.

The League will be in regular contact with the PFA and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives.

Solidarity with clubs below PL

Discussions also took place regarding financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow.

Critically, the League unanimously voted to advance funds of £125 million to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time.

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  • Premier League could play all remaining games in China

Supporting NHS

Further to that assistance, the League remains committed to supporting the National Health Service, its staff and helping people in communities, not least those who are most vulnerable.

The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances.

In consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20 million to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.

This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.

This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.

This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.

Supporting clubs’ community work

In response to COVID-19, Premier League clubs have been supporting tens of thousands of people in their communities each and every day through targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a wide range of free resources to support wellbeing and education.

Many Premier League clubs are also working closely with their local NHS Trusts to provide valuable support through the provision of resources, volunteers and facilities.

Now, more than ever, clubs are playing a vital role to support the wellbeing of those in their communities and alleviate pressure on critical health services.

Promoting public health messages

Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS, the wide reach and appeal of the Premier League and our clubs will continue to be used to promote important public health messaging throughout this crisis.

The Premier League would like to reiterate that the thoughts of all our clubs are with all those directly affected by COVID-19​.

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Premier League players set to launch coronavirus fund to help NHS

Senior players at Premier League clubs are involved in discussions to organise a coronavirus crisis fund to support the NHS.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and team-mate James Milner are heavily involved with organising the fund, which could run into millions of pounds of charitable donations.

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Conversations between club captains and senior players remain ongoing but an announcement could be made as early as Friday afternoon once the principles of the fund are agreed upon.

The move comes amid increased focus on footballers’ pay as some clubs have furloughed non-playing staff, while health secretary Matt Hancock called for Premier League stars to “play their part” and take a pay cut or deferral.

The Premier League announced on Friday clubs have unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a 30 per cent wage cut, which would be achieved through a “combination of conditional reductions and deferrals”.

The Premier League, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and club representatives will hold a meeting on Saturday to discuss the proposals.

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Philippe Coutinho ‘transfer price set’ as Barcelona prepare to cut their losses

Barcelona are reportedly willing to cut their losses and accept a bid lower than their ideal asking price to offload Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian midfielder is expected to leave the Nou Camp this summer after failing to prove a hit since his transfer from Liverpool in 2018.

Coutinho had hoped to secure a permanent switch to loan club Bayern Munich but the Bundesliga giants have decided not to exercise their option to buy.

Barca have now been left in a difficult position as they plan on using any cash from Coutinho's sale to fund moves for other targets.

The Evening Standard report that the Catalan club are now prepared to accept bids in the region of £70-80million to part with the 27-year-old.

That is a significant mark down from the deal they agreed with Liverpool, which cost an initial £106m up front with a further £36m due in add-ons – some of which have already been met.

Barca boss Quique Setien was open to the idea of Coutinho returning to the club and joining back up with the first-team.

But given the current coronavirus crisis, Barca need to mke one major sale to boost their transfer kitty, and Coutinho is the man set to make way.

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez and PSG's Neymar are top of Barcelona's wishlist, but neither will come cheap.

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Eagles CB Darius Slay wants 'the game on me'

The Philadelphia Eagles needed to find a cover corner this offseason who could help lock down opponents’ No. 1 target. They acquired that man with a trade for Darius Slay.

The new Eagles corner is ready for the opportunity to travel and take on foes’ top receiver if that’s what the coaches ask.

"I love the challenge," Slay said in a conference call Thursday, via the Associated Press. "I kind of ask for it a lot because the fact that I want the game on me, and I want to help win the game, and if the best route to go about it is me traveling with a guy, then I’ll do it. If the coach sees otherwise, if he says left or right, I’ll want to do whatever to help the team win."

Under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, for whom Slay played in his rookie campaign in Detroit, the Eagles have played mostly zone, without a traveling corner who could match up one-on-one with an opponent’s best. If Schwartz decides to play more man-to-man in 2020 after the Slay addition, the veteran corner invites that challenge.

"I can get up in a guy’s face for the whole game," Slay said. "I can switch up my technique from off to press. I’m comfortable in anything I’m doing. I compete every play. I’m not scared. I’m not a cocky guy, just a confident guy. I feel like I just like to go play ball."

"I’ve been doing it the past four or five years," he added, "and I’ve been very, very successful at it. If they need me to continue to do it, that’s what I’ll continue to do."

The 29-year-old corner had a down season in 2019 by his standards, compiling 13 passes defended and two INTs. Pro Football Focus graded it Slay’s worst season since his rookie campaign.

Several factors played into Slay’s down year. The Lions had almost zero pass rush, seemingly allowing quarterbacks eons to pick apart the secondary. Not even the top corners can cover all day. Slay also dealt with a hamstring injury much of last season.

The veteran corner dismisses the notion he had a bad season.

"I had a great year, in my opinion," Slay said. "I think I played freaking fantastic. … It was dang sure good enough to make a Pro Bowl third season in a row."

With a strong Eagles defensive line projected to batter quarterbacks, Slay could be in for a bounce-back season as the anchor of Philly’s secondary.

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Stuart Lancaster interview: Leinster coach opens up on remarkable campaign – EXCLUSIVE

Which has been the best rugby union team in Europe this season? England? The Six Nations table says so. France? On their day maybe. Here’s another suggestion – the side that Saracens should have been playing in the Heineken Cup quarterfinal, Leinster.

The Irish province are the continent’s only unbeaten professional side this season with a perfect record. They have played 19, won 19 and averaged five tries a game. They were favourites to take Europe’s club title.

Had they been allowed to enter the Six Nations with Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose and James Lowe in their ranks it would have been interesting to see where they finished.

There is a case to be made for them beating Italy, Scotland, Wales and even the Ireland national team. France, if it was the version last seen at Murrayfield, might well have fallen too. As for England, maybe they would have been too powerful but it would have been a fun game. Stuart Lancaster against his successor Eddie Jones. What’s not to like?

Lancaster, back at the family home in Leeds because of the sporting shutdown, will not be drawn into this fantasy Six Nations but he does offer this intriguing peak behind the curtains at his Leinster side.

“I always do this exercise with Leinster. I clip up a game – England v Wales say or Scotland v France – and I ask the players: ‘if we were playing this team, how would we beat them?’ I do it with the Crusaders too,” said Lancaster.

“I wouldn’t be as arrogant as to say Leinster would beat any of those sides but we have some very good players and the occasion in international rugby does sometimes blind people to the quality.

“Internationally you are trying to integrate players from different clubs or provinces in a short period so they can deliver under pressure and that is a challenge. You have a huge amount more time as a coach at provincial level and that can show in the cohesion of your team.”

With the success Leinster have enjoyed under him and director of rugby Leo Cullen, Lancaster is likely to be a wanted man in the Premiership when his contract expires at the end of next season. But the question he fires back is why would he swap what he has now? He has his hands on a crock of gold.

“With the age profile of the squad and with what we have coming through, Leinster are going to have to do something badly wrong not to be at the top table for a long time to come,” he said.

Leinster has turned out to be the perfect fit for the Cumbrian. He needed them to rebuild his career after his England exit and it turned out they needed him just as much.

Lancaster’s hands-on coaching talents, hidden too often in his manager role with England, have turned a good side into a great one.

When he first arrived in Dublin three and a half years ago Lancaster prioritised defence but that emphasis has evolved so attack now takes an equal hand. And it is Leinster’s attack which has set them apart this season.

The mantra is freedom with responsibility. They have the structure to unpick organised defences but can react to a chaotic game as it unfolds.

“In training, there’s a strong element of repetition of movement patterns so the way we play is very clearly ingrained in the players. It’s the same with any top team. If you watch Saracens at their best or Exeter there is a definite style and Leinster are the same,” he said.

“That has given us the confidence to play the way we have played and maintain that consistency as the team has changed. The Ireland internationals have only been available for 25 per cent of the time. Over 19 games I don’t think we have picked the same team twice. We’ve probably used 50 players this season.”

Like everything else, the Leinster machine is on hold. With Europe mothballed and the Pro14 suspended indefinitely this could well be it for their season. Leinster could do go down as the 2019/20 invincibles but without a trophy to show for it.

“Who knows how it is going to play out? In the bigger picture it doesn’t matter anyway set against the coronavirus fight,” said Lancaster. “But the one thing I’ll be drip-feeding through to the players is that we pick up where we left off when we eventually play again whether that’s this season or next and get better again.”

An ominous warning for the rest of Europe.

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Neymar donates £770,000 to help fight coronavirus pandemic in Brazil

Neymar has secretly donated £770,000 to Unicef and a fund set up by Brazilian celebrities. The Paris Saint-Germain forward’s private contribution was revealed by Brazilian TV show Fofocalizando.

The money will go towards the treatment of Covid-19 patients and support for those who need it as lockdowns sweep the globe.

Sports stars all over the world have pledged money to help fight the outbreak. Barcelona’s footballers agreed a 70 per cent pay cut last month, while this week Brighton manager Graham Potter became the second Premier League head coach to take a voluntary salary reduction after Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe.

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On Thursday, the health secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League players to take pay cuts to help ease the burden on non-playing staff.

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Anthony Joshua coach discusses ‘unlikely’ June return to ring

Anthony Joshua's trainer Robert McCracken has admitted that it does not appear as though the British heavyweight will be returning to the ring any time soon amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

AJ was due to take on Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, and as yet there has been no word on how the global pandemic has affected the bout.

But it appears increasingly likely that the fight will either be postponed or called off altogether, with tickets not even having gone on sale yet, and speaking to Boxingscene.com McCracken did not appear optimistic of the event going ahead as planned.

"I spoke to him this week," McCracken said on Joshua. "He is staying at home and trying to do some keep fit in his house. A bit of stretching, a bit of circuits and a bit of shadowboxing. He is in the same boat as anybody. The world is on pause.

"My guess, and it is only a guess, is that it will be at least another month before the lockdown ends. It is probably unlikely I would have thought. The way this is you have to get the world back going again.

"With the coronavirus, you have to plan to get people in and maybe people will be going into quarantine, so you can't do anything."


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LTA staff face an anxious wait to learn if they will be on furlough

LTA staff face an anxious wait to learn whether they will be placed on furlough in the wake of Wimbledon being cancelled due to coronavirus

  • Tennis, while better set than other sports, won’t be unscathed by coronavirus
  • Wimbledon was cancelled this week and all action is off until July 13 at present
  • Now, LTA staff could be placed into furlough until action eventually restarts 

Staff at the Lawn Tennis Association face an anxious weekend as they await details of furloughing plans that the governing body is set to introduce on Monday.

A remote virtual staff meeting was held late on Thursday afternoon. According to sources employees were told they will be split into three categories, with managers expected to tell them of phased moves that are being formulated for an unknown period when the whole game is effectively suspended.

The developments come in the wake of Wimbledon’s cancellation being confirmed on Wednesday, and all tennis being postponed until July 13 at the earliest.

LTA staff could go on furlough, with developments expected after Wimbledon was cancelled

It is not yet clear whether senior staff will offer to take paycuts to ease the situation, or if furloughed salaries will be topped up above the £2,500 per month which is being funded by the taxpayer.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S FURLOUGH SCHEME? 

When an employee is placed on furlough they are temporarily put on a leave of absence and not paid, although they remain on the payroll, meaning that they do not lose their job.

This could be because there is no work for these employees, or that the company is not able to afford to pay them, because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

In the United Kingdom, the Government is offering to pay 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, until they are able to resume their job full time. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will last for at least three months from March 1.

While tennis is better off than most other sports, it is clear that it will not escape from the coronavirus crisis without damage.

On Thursday Wimbledon Chief Executive Richard Lewis warned that The Championships’ surplus, which contributes more than £40million annually to the LTA’s coffers, will not emerge entirely unscathed from the abandonment, despite insurance policies that guard against a pandemic.

The maintenance of that specific clause by the All England Club’s Risk and Finance Sub-Committee has ensured that they will recoup plenty of revenue although, as Lewis stated, there are complex negotiations to come before any figure can be arrived at.

Wimbledon has already stated that it has no current plans to furlough those who work there permanently.

The last annual report showed that the LTA, based at Roehampton, had an average of 282 staff over 2018, whose total employment costs were just shy of £18m for the year.

Tennis is better off than most sports but it will not escape the coronavirus crisis unharmed

It also recorded that, as of December 31 2018, the governing body had £66.2m in a shares and investment portfolio. 

The total salary package of Chief Executive Scott Lloyd for that year was £421,000.

The governing body is also expected to unveil some relief measures to try and help the wider game, including coaches and venues, during the shutdown. As with other organisations, one of the many unknowns is just how long the current situation will last.

There is already frustration among some coaches that they are unable to work, given the natural social distancing that occurs in tennis.

 

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Arsenal target Jonathan David eyes Premier League move

‘That’s my goal’: Genk’s Arsenal target Jonathan David eyes Premier League move and says he wants to be ‘one of the best strikers in the world’

  • Arsenal target Jonathan David wants to move to the Premier League one day
  • The Gunners have been scouting the 20-year-old Gent striker this campaign
  • Mikel Arteta knows Arsenal could lose at least one of their top two strikers 
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette’s contracts are expiring

Arsenal target Jonathan David has talked up a move to the Premier League in the near future.

The Gunners have been scouting the 20-year-old Gent striker extensively this season according to Goal. 

Mikel Arteta has been keeping tabs on David as they could lose at least one of their strikers this summer.

Arsenal target Jonathan David has revealed he wants to move to the Premier League one day

Now David has put the north London club on red alert in a recent interview with the Guardian.  

David said: ‘I want to become one of the best strikers in the world. That’s my goal. 

‘The Premier League is the best in the world and most competitive so obviously that is somewhere I would love to play in the future.’ 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is approaching the last 12 months of his contract and Alexander Lacazette is entering the final two years of his current deal.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Alexandre Lacazette (right) could leave Arsenal soon

 This has pushed the Arsenal hierarchy into finding a possible replacement with big decisions set to be made when the season ends.

Contract talks with both Lacazette and Aubameyang have stalled for months despite both insisting they are happy to stay at the Emirates.

This has led to the Gunners targeting David who has scored 23 goals in 39 games this season.  




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