Time for cool heads and calm reflection during challenging times – EFL

English Football League chairman Rick Parry has called for “cool heads and calm reflection” as he refused to speculate on how or if the 2019-20 season will be completed.

The coronavirus outbreak will this week lead to the suspension of the Gallagher Premiership, the PA news agency understands, and the Super League while horse racing in Britain is set to move behind closed doors.

Last Friday, the EFL put its competitions on hold until April 3 at the earliest. Since then there has been plenty of conjecture about what will unfold over the next few weeks and months with regard to its leagues.

But the EFL said in a statement on Monday morning it would be “inappropriate to respond to the many hypothetical solutions being suggested” ahead of a meeting on Wednesday for a further update.

Parry said: “These are indeed challenging times for the league, its clubs and the game as a whole.

“However, now is the time for cool heads and calm reflection, rather than speculation as we look to steer our competitions and clubs through this period of uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, officials from rugby union, rugby league and horse racing are meeting on Monday to consider their options as the Covid-19 outbreak continued to decimate the sporting landscape.

UEFA will host an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether the Champions League, the Europa League and Euro 2020 can be played after domestic leagues in most of Europe shut down.

And on Sunday, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina told Sportsmediaset: “We will propose that UEFA postpone the European Championship.

“We will try to get to the end of this championship (Serie A) because it is fairer and more correct after the many investments and sacrifices of our clubs.”

Officials from the Gallagher Premiership clubs are expected to preempt government advice and postpone the season until further notice.

Super League clubs due to meet in Huddersfield on Monday were already considering their options before news broke late on Sunday evening that Toronto Wolfpack have suspended training and stood down their entire UK-based staff after four players experienced symptoms of coronavirus.

The Canadian club’s action means that their fixture against Wakefield next weekend will almost certainly be postponed and is set to signal a potential shutdown of the league.

A statement from the club read: “We train in an environment where we interact with students and members of the public and we vehemently do not want to act as a possible vector for COVID-19 which is why we have taken this immediate action.

“The health and welfare of our players, staff, fans and partners is always our primary concern.”

Racing in Britain is set to move behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March.

The Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled last week, but fixtures in Ireland were closed to the public from Friday evening and it is a similar situation in Scotland following guidance from the Irish and Scottish governments regarding the banning of mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

Aintree’s three-day Grand National meeting is due to take place on April 2-4 and the British Horseracing Authority said: “The UK Government has also been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Randox Health Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible.”

The International Olympic Committee is set to hold a conference call with international federations to discuss the virus and the problems it has caused for Tokyo 2020 qualifying.

“Since this situation started to develop some weeks ago, the IOC has been constantly updating its stakeholders on the latest developments,” the IOC said in a statement to www.insidethegames.biz.

“The calls are part of this regular information sharing process.”

The remainder of the Boxing Road to Tokyo Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena in London will take place behind closed doors due to “the changing situation with Coronavirus and concerns for public, athlete and volunteer welfare,” the IOC Boxing Task Force has said.

The event started on Saturday and is scheduled to run until March 24.

New Zealand Cricket has announced the cancellation of the last two rounds of its domestic first-class competition after taking advice from medical experts.

Wellington Firebirds, who finished the truncated season 26 points ahead of Central Stags, have therefore been awarded the 2019-20 Plunket Shield.

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