UNDATED (AP) – Add boxing to the list of sports on the comeback trail. Promoter Bob Arum says he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of fights over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel. A second fight card will be held two nights later, kicking off twice weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.
No fans will be allowed, and Arum said fighters and everyone else will be tested at least twice during fight week for the new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets next week to consider the events along with two cards that UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas. They are also pending the reopening of the MGM and other Las Vegas hotels.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
– The return of Xfinity Series racing has been delayed once again by rain at Darlington Raceway. It’s the first race for the series since March 7 due to the coronvirus pandemic. It was originally set for Tuesday night, but heavy storms washed out that plan. Organizers were set to try again Thursday at noon but that, too, had to be put on hold because of rain at the old, country track. The NASCAR Cup Series had a successful return at Darlington with two races this week.
– IndyCar has made more revisions to its schedule. The open-wheel series has canceled the June 27 race in Richmond, Virginia, and the street course race in Toronto on July 12. IndyCar is slated to finally begin June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway but will not race after Texas until an event July 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race scheduled for June 21 at Road America in Wisconsin has been changed to a doubleheader there on July 11-12. The season finale had already been changed to Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, which was scheduled as the season opener before the series was suspended March 13.
Premier League football is poised to return after a three-month shutdown, with top-flight games in England provisionally set to resume on Wednesday, June 17.
Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games, and make 25 available free-to-air when the season resumes.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal are scheduled to be the first two games when the Premier League resumes next month, with a full round of matches taking place for the first time since the restart on June 19-21.
Provisional restart date of June 17 agreed, subject to safety requirements
Aston Villa vs Sheff Utd, Man City vs Arsenal scheduled for June 17
Full match round to start June 19
All 92 games broadcast live in UK – 64 live on Sky Sports
All games behind closed doors
Venues still to be confirmed
New staggered KO times
The fixtures set to take place on June 17 were originally postponed due to the EFL Cup Final and the rearranged Manchester City vs Arsenal game was due to be broadcast live on Sky Sports before the pandemic struck. Every club will have played 29 Premier League games after those midweek matches.
This season’s remaining games are set to be played on any seven days in a week, with fans set to enjoy up to four live matches on Saturdays and Sundays.
A total of 64 live games will be on Sky Sports from the provisional restart date of June 17, with 25 of those games being made available free to air including the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool.
To celebrate the return of the Premier League, Sky Sports will also launch a host of innovative new features and updates to give fans an even more immersive experience and share the moments live with family and friends on virtual platforms.
When will the games be staged?
New staggered kick-off times will be used for the remaining 92 matches.
Games on a Friday will kick off at 8pm, while on Saturday the slots will be 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm. Sunday matches will kick off at either 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm, with Monday games starting at 8pm.
Midweek games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will kick off at either 6pm or 8pm.
Premier League Shareholders today agreed to a new provisional restart date for the 2019/20 season of Wednesday 17 June, provided that all safety requirements are in place
The plan for football to resume behind closed doors awaits the green light from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and government.
Sky Sports News understands that stage three – the return to play aspect – of the DCMS’ guidance on the return of elite sport is still being finalised.
March 5 – Pre-match handshakes banned in the Premier League. March 11 – Man City v Arsenal is first Premier League game suspended; Liverpool v Atletico Madrid the last top level game played in England. March 12 – Man Utd, Wolves play away Europa League ties behind closed doors, Rangers host Bayer Leverkusen in front of fans. March 13 – Football suspended following an emergency meeting between PL, FA, EFL and WSL April 15 – SPFL clubs approve plan to end the Scottish Championship, League One and league Two seasons. May 15 – League Two clubs vote to end the season with immediate effect. May 17 – Premier League players and staff tested for COVID-19. May 18 – Scottish Premiership curtailed, with points per game determining league positions and Celtic named champions. May 19 – Premier League clubs return to socially distanced group training. May 25 – Women’s Super League cancelled, with title and relegation to be determined. May 27 – Premier League clubs vote to resume contact training.
Thursday’s conference call was the second meeting of Premier League clubs in the last two days after they unanimously agreed to resume contact training.
There have been 12 positive results across the first three rounds of coronavirus testing at Premier League clubs. Four positive tests were announced on Wednesday evening.
Full Premier League statement
A statement read: “Premier League Shareholders today agreed to a new provisional restart date for the 2019/20 season of Wednesday 17 June, provided that all safety requirements are in place.
“Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal – postponed due to the Carabao Cup Final – will now take place on 17 June, followed by a full match round beginning on Friday 19 June. Due to COVID-19, games will take place behind closed doors.
“Premier League Shareholders also approved a proposal that would see all 92 remaining matches broadcast live in the UK by the League’s existing broadcast partners: Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime.
“The planned kick-off times in the UK for live matches will also differ from the traditional times.”
Positive to see further steps on the return of football today
I’ve been pushing for as many games as possible to be free to view & for the return of the top league to support the whole football family
We are still working on govt guidance before we green light sports’ return
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters added: “Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June. But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.
”Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches.
“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”
Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games and make 25 available free to air when the season resumes.
64 live games on Sky Sports from provisional restart date of June 17
25 games to be made freely available
New Sky Sports digital innovations also planned to enhance fan experience
Sky, the UK’s leading football broadcaster, will make 25 games available ‘free to air’ – including Everton vs Liverpool on the first full weekend back – for everyone in the UK to enjoy.
With 92 Premier League matches of the current season remaining, Sky Sports subscribers will be able to watch 39 exclusive live games with a further 25 available more widely via Sky’s free-to-air ‘Pick’ Channel and simulcast on Sky Sports, allowing the whole nation to be part of the return of live sport.
Analysis: ‘Testing has provided a degree of confidence’
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson:
‘As soon as a return to contact training had been approved unanimously by clubs, the next step was for a resumption of matches.
‘There has been a shift in perception in the couple of weeks that has been helped by the testing. The Premier League clubs have taken part in three rounds of testing and there have been 12 positives cases, but 99.5 per cent of those testing have returned negative results.
‘Every positive result will have to have been taken seriously, but the relatively low figures will have given a degree of confidence for those players and managers that they are returning to as safe an environment as possible.
‘A lot can happen in the next three weeks but what clubs now have is that definitive line in the sand, they know what they are aiming for in terms of Project Restart. In the case of four of those clubs, they are playing on June 17, with the rest taking part over the weekend of June 19, 20 and 21.
‘The expectation from the Premier League is that the remaining 92 fixtures will be completed in a six-week timeframe. A lot of other items remain under discussion, notably where all the fixtures will be played.
‘The Premier League are also discussing a Plan B – what happens if there is a second peak of the virus and those fixtures cannot be fulfilled at some point throughout June and July? But clubs have that June 17 target to focus on and that is what they will chase.’
Analysis: Neutral venues still on the table?
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson:
‘We still await confirmation on stadia and venues. This goes back to the authorities and police to see whether the clubs will get their way to play matches at home.
‘There is perhaps a suspicion that some of the big remaining games, the more high-profile games, may be at neutral venues.
‘It has always been the Premier League’s intention to finish the remaining 92 games, and they have the broad agreement to do that, albeit in the restrictions of a behind-closed-doors environment.
‘Where the question goes now is the stadiums that can and can’t be used. Neutral venues were the key plan going forward, but clubs have been reassuring the authorities that fans will not be gathering outside their stadiums as had been feared.
‘What will happen to specific clubs is a question that still needs to be answered.’
Home advantage wiped out?
While venues are still to be confirmed, there appears to be a trend in the Bundesliga when it comes to ‘home games’. There have been only five home wins in 27 Bundesliga games played behind closed doors – suggesting home advantage is wiped out without fans.
That ratio represents a 25 per cent slump for success on home soil since the league restarted and underlines how fans in the stands are the key component to home advantage.
How high or low could your club finish in the league this season? With 92 games left to play, we reveal the best and worst scenario for every club.
Data guru Ben Mayhew has simulated every possible result from the remaining 92 games and calculated each club’s range of possible final league positions – in addition to probabilities for each standing.
The results reveal it’s all to play for in the race for Champions League qualification and the battle for top-flight survival…
Even if the restart does wipe out home advantage, the form of the 20 teams across the season to date still stands – with some facing sides with a far higher, or lower, average position than others.
For teams such as Newcastle in 13th, they may be looking on eagerly with five of the bottom six left to play. Less so perhaps for Crystal Palace, in 11th, who have every top-six side left to face, except Manchester City.
The title may be all but decided – so we’ll leave that out of the equation – but the race for the Champions League still looks like it would have plenty of twists and turns. So what do the run-ins say about the chances of the runners and riders?
MLB and the Major League Players Association (MLBPA) are continuing to negotiate the structure of a possible 2020 season. The aim is to be able to begin the season in early July, assuming the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic allows that to happen. Right now, the matter of player compensation is the biggest sticking point, and negotiations may be taking a turn for the contentious.
How contentious? It seems that two figures who should be on the same side are perhaps in conflict. Here’s what Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer on Tuesday tweeted about super-agent Scott Boras:
“Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say… Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”
Bauer’s comments are light on specifics and by his own admission are prompted by rumors, so we can only guess as to what’s agitated him. The owners’ most recent proposal, which called for higher-paid players to give up a higher percentage of their income in 2020, certainly has the potential to divide union membership, so perhaps that’s at work. As well, the MLBPA has long been willing to negotiate away the rights of non-members (i.e., draftees and international free agents) for the benefit of members. Perhaps that’s another source of tension when it comes to agents and established players like Bauer. This, of course, is all speculation.
Boras has been outspoken during these negotiations, and there’s no doubt that someone of his power and resources can influence the process if he chooses to do so. Again, Boras as an agent and Bauer as a player and union member should have aligned goals right now, but something about Boras’ rumored “personal agenda” has put them at cross purposes, at least for the moment.
The father of Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has died after contracting the coronavirus, the English Premier League club announced late Wednesday.
Villa said 79-year-old Ron Smith, a lifelong fan of the Birmingham side, had been suffering from COVID-19 for four weeks.
“The Aston Villa family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current head coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79,” said a club statement.
“Ron, who had recently been living in a care home after being diagnosed with dementia six years ago, contracted coronavirus four weeks ago and after a short spell in hospital passed away with his family at his side.
“A lifelong supporter, Ron was a steward at Villa Park for many years and passed on his love of the club down to his children.
“As well as being a regular at home games, Ron was also there to witness that greatest of days in May 1982 when Villa lifted the European Cup in Rotterdam.
“The thoughts of everyone at the football club are currently with Dean and his family at this most distressing of times and we would kindly ask for the family’s privacy to be respected.”
Smith is not the only Premier League boss to lose a close relative to the virus, with COVID-19 also claiming the life of the 82-year-old mother of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola last month.