Coronavirus wrap: Gunners return to training base while Windies remain flexible

Arsenal’s players will be allowed to run at the club’s training base while the West Indies remain flexible over their tour of England as the coronavirus pandemic continues to dictate the sporting calendar.

The Gunners’ squad will undertake some light work at London Colney individually in line with the government’s coronavirus regulations from next week.

A club spokesperson confirmed: “Players will be permitted access to our London Colney training grounds next week. Access will be limited, carefully managed and social distancing will be maintained at all times. All Colney buildings remain closed. Players will travel alone, do their individual workout and return home.”

Arsenal v Olympiakos – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – Second Leg – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal v Olympiakos – UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 – Second Leg – Emirates Stadium

The PA news agency understands the players will operate on a strict rotational basis, with small groups arriving individually and they will not come into contact with each other.

It comes after Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe and Granit Xhaka were all reminded about their responsibilities after being photographed violating coronavirus guidelines recently.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have decided against imposing a pay cut on their first-team squad, instead requesting the players continue their support for charities.

The Blues have been in negotiations with their players about a salary reduction, reportedly around 10 per cent, in an effort to save money during the current crisis.

A statement on the club website read: “At this time, the men’s first team will not be contributing towards the club financially and instead the board have directed the team to focus their efforts on further supporting other charitable causes.”

But Aston Villa’s players, first-team coaches and senior management have agreed a 25 per cent wage deferral for the next four months.

Chief executive Christian Purslow said: “During the two seasons since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens rescued Aston Villa they have supported and funded the rebuilding of the club with a huge level of personal financial investment.

“They are continuing to provide substantial funding which, combined with these significant salary deferrals, enables Aston Villa to confirm that all non-football staff – full and part time – will be retained and paid in full throughout the lockdown. There will be no furloughing of staff.”

No professional cricket will be played in England and Wales until at least 1 July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) April 24, 2020

Cricket West Indies says it is “flexible” about rearranging a Test tour of England but the governing body insists it will not jeopardise the safety of players in order to complete the three-match series.

In a series that counts towards the World Test Championship, the Windies were due to play England at The Oval from June 4-8, Edgbaston from June 12-16 and Lord’s from June 25-29.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board has extended its delay to the start of the season because of coronavirus, with no professional cricket to take place under its jurisdiction until July 1.

Meanwhile, Iwan Thomas believes the postponement of the Olympics until next year could aid Team GB’s medal tally.

Iwan Thomas File Photo
Iwan Thomas File Photo

The British 400 metres record holder expects an extra 12 months will help those who are yet to make a big breakthrough.

Thomas, who won Olympic silver in the 4x400m relay in 1996, said: “For some
it’ll be a good thing, I felt for Dina Asher-Smith who is mentally and physically at the top of her game.

“She might still improve but being the current world champion (in the 200m)
you are there to be shot at and people fear her a little bit.

“But for others it’s a godsend to have another winter’s training behind them.”