12 May 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

5:39 am on 12 May 2020

Latest - No professional sport, even behind closed doors, will be staged in England until June 1st at the earliest.

Anfield, Liverpool football club.

Anfield Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The UK government has published a 50-page guidance document detailing how England will begin to ease lockdown measures.

Most professional sport in England has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

English Premier League clubs are meet today to discuss Project Restart, which aims for top-flight football to resume next month. Cricket and rugby authorities in England have said their sports will not resume until July.

The news however, is a blow to British horse racing, which had hoped to resume behind closed doors later this month.

Step two includes "permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact," the guidelines say.

The resumption of elite sport is contingent on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus and the June 1 date will be delayed if certain conditions are not met.


Western Force may return to rugby competition

Rugby Australia are looking at potentially including both the Western Force and Japan's Sunwolves in a competition with their four Super Rugby sides to start in early July, high performance manager Ben Whitaker said.

Richard Hardwick in action for the Western Force in a match against the Sharks earlier this year.

Western Force Photo: PhotoSport

With social isolation measures introduced to combat COVID-19 starting to ease around the country, the ACT Brumbies returned to their training ground in Canberra on Monday with the other Super Rugby teams expected to follow this week.

The resumption of Super Rugby is impossible because of international travel bans so Australia is looking to follow New Zealand's lead by setting up a one-country competition to get players back on the pitch.

Whitaker confirmed that the Force, the Perth-based team axed from Super Rugby in 2017 to cut costs but kept alive by mining billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, had been part of ongoing discussions.

The Sunwolves were part of the Australian conference for the 2020 Super Rugby season, their last before they too were set for the axe from the otherwise southern hemisphere competition.

While the difficulty of international travel makes the Tokyo-based side's inclusion more complicated, Whitaker said there had been discussions about locating the squad in Australia for the duration of the competition.


City buy Belgium club

The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City have agreed to buy Belgian second division club Lommel SK.

The Belgian team will become the ninth club in the City Football Group network, which also includes Major League Soccer side New York City and Spanish second division club Girona among others.

CFG are set to wipe out Lommel's debt worth $3.5 million as part of the deal, the BBC reported.

Last year, CFG, which is majority owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, expanded their network to India after agreeing to buy a 65% stake in Indian Super League side Mumbai City FC.

Lommel were sixth in the league when the season in Belgium was ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Williams appoint new boss

The Williams Formula One team appointed former McLaren chief operations officer Simon Roberts to the newly-created position of managing director.

Formula 1 pre-season testing

Formula 1 pre-season testing Photo: Actionplus

Roberts, 57, will join on June 1 and take responsibility for the struggling team's technical, operations and planning functions.

Once-dominant former champions Williams have been among the backmarkers in recent seasons, finishing last overall in 2018 and 2019.

Williams' most recent campaign, with just one point from 21 races, was their worst yet.

They parted company with former technical director Paddy Lowe in June last year after he had gone on a 'leave of absence' in March.

Roberts spent 2009 seconded from McLaren to what was the Force India team, now competing as Racing Point, as Chief Operating Officer before returning to Woking.


Number one jersey for Tagovailoa

The jersey of new Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is already the number one seller in the NFL.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tagovailoa was drafted two weeks ago and he took the number one jersey for the side.

His aqua Dolphins home jersey is the top seller and the away white is second in jersey sales since the NFL draft last month.

Behind Tagovailoa is Tom Brady, the new quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He actually filled the third (pewter alternative vapor), fourth (white vapor), fifth (Buccaneers red) and sixth (red vapor) spots on the NFL sales list.

Brady teammate Rob Gronkowski, acquired by the Buccaneers from the New England Patriots, is No. 7 on the list ahead of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow was the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tagovailoa was the fifth pick in the draft. He chose to wear No. 1 after the No. 13 he wore at Alabama -- retired by the Dolphins to honor Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino -- was unavailable.

Second overall pick Chase Young's Washington Redskins jersey rates as the highest seller for a defensive player at No. 24 on the NFL's list.


Training returns in Victoria

Professional sports clubs in Australia's southern state of Victoria will be able to resume training on Wednesday, removing a barrier to the restart of national leagues suspended due to the novel coronavirus.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said clubs would be allowed to train in closed sessions as part of an easing of the state's social distancing restrictions announced on Monday.

Victoria is home to 10 AFL teams in the top-flight Australian Rules football competition, along with National Rugby League side Melbourne Storm and three professional football teams in the A-League.

All three football codes were suspended in March when travel restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus made their competitions untenable.

The NRL plans to restart on May 28 having secured approval from the states of New South Wales and Queensland, where most of the teams are based, to train, travel and host games.

The AFL has not announced any restart date but hopes to resume in June, while the A-League is looking to wrap up its championship by August after play was suspended with five rounds of the regular season and the playoffs left to complete.