Coronavirus wrap: Ben Youngs and Carl Frampton warn of changed sporting picture
England international Ben Youngs and boxing champion Carl Frampton both accept their respective sports will be far from normal when they eventually resume after the coronavirus pandemic.
The sporting calendar has been wiped out because of COVID-19 which has killed almost 10,000 people in the United Kingdom, with rugby union’s Premiership campaign suspended indefinitely and Frampton’s bout against WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring one of many fights to be postponed.
Youngs accepts there may be minimal turnaround between the conclusion of this season and the start of the next one but has called for clear and sensible structuring from Premiership Rugby to protect players.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There is a good possibility that we will finish the season and two weeks later could be potentially starting the new season but if that’s what needs to happen then that’s what needs to happen.
“As players, you’ve just got to adapt to that and be ready. But we obviously have the concussion rate in rugby, which has been a hot topic for a while now, there’s no way that we could be playing two games a week.
“It just wouldn’t work, we haven’t got the squad size to be able to do that, you’d be putting the players at risk.”
Two-time world champion Frampton has warned that boxing could take “months or possibly years” to recover from the damage.
The Belfast-born fighter believes there will be two major problems when the current lockdown is finally eased – the financial hit suffered by the paying public and a wider health concern about packing into venues.
“It might take a long time to recover. I’m talking months and possibly years away from getting it back to what it once was,” Frampton told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“In my position most of the money and the purse I received comes from TV, but there are guys fighting on non-televised shows that need bums on seats and need to sell tickets to make a living.
“If people are apprehensive about large gatherings and these guys aren’t going to be able to sell their tickets, or if people can’t afford to buy them because they’ve lost their job or for other reasons…”
Geraint Thomas is crossing his fingers that the Tour de France can go ahead at some point in 2020 as he looks to cash in on what he believes are his peak years.
“It is a shame but hopefully it can go ahead,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “Obviously there are bigger things that need to be sorted out first but as soon as it’s safe and ready to go ahead we’d love it to happen. I’m praying and hoping it goes ahead at some point.
“It’s the pinnacle of the sport, it’s what it’s all about. I’m not sure when but hopefully it goes ahead this year.”
Sir Kenny Dalglish’s son Paul has thanked the football community for its “truly humbling” support after the Liverpool great tested positive for coronavirus.
“It’s not my place to comment on my old man, he can do that for himself in due course,” Dalglish Jnr said on Twitter.
“Truly humbling messages from supporters of all teams. I’m sure we can all agree this is more important than football & that we are all united as blues to support the NHS. Stay safe everyone.”
SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan is concerned about Rangers’ allegations over the stewardship of the governing body’s vote on how to end the season and has called on them to provide some evidence.
The Ibrox club want SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster to be suspended after claiming a whistleblower has provided them with information that the vote on how to end the Scottish Championship, League One and League Two was not carried out fairly.
Gers said in a statement: “We have been presented with evidence via a whistleblower that raises serious concerns surrounding the SPFL’s processes relating to its stewardship of the voting on the resolution presented to member clubs.”
MacLennan responded: “Allegations of a lack of even-handedness and fair play go to the very integrity of the league and I would expect Rangers interim chairman Douglas Park to present compelling evidence to back up his claims, or to withdraw them.”