Coronavirus Wrap: FA Cup dates announced and tennis in June return

The FA Cup final has been rescheduled for August 1 as the domestic football calendar takes shape ahead of a return, while tennis fans will see the Murray brothers back on court next month.

With the coronavirus pandemic seeing English game halted in mid-March, the Premier League announced its intention to resume action on June 17 subject to Government clearance.

The Football Association has now announced its dates for the final three rounds of the FA Cup, with the quarter-finals played over the weekend of June 27 and 28.

No decision reached yet on whether those matches will be played on a home-and-away basis as normal or at neutral venues, but the intention for semi-finals on the weekend of July 11 and 12 is to be played at Wembley as usual.

The FA Cup final would be on August 1 at the national stadium, with all ties to be played behind closed doors.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We are pleased to agree the provisional restart date for the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup.

“The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we’d like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time.

“This has been a difficult period for many people and while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met. The health and well-being of players, staff and supporters remains our priority.”

In tennis, Andy Murray will return to action on June 23 as part of a six-day tournament organised by brother Jamie.

Jamie Murray, the seven-time Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles champion, has helped put on a behind-closed-doors tournament called ‘Schroders Battle of the Brits’.

It will see the Murray brothers and the likes of Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans play each other at the Lawn Tennis Association’s Roehampton Base.

The tournament, which will crown singles and doubles champions, will be screened live on Amazon Prime and raise a minimum of £100,000 for the NHS.

With the ATP and WTA seasons on ice due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Battle of the Brits will bring live tennis back to British fans in a month which should have seen the Wimbledon Championships take place.

“The last few months have been incredibly challenging times for everyone and we see this event as our way of giving back,” Jamie Murray said.

“A lot of work has gone in to make sure this could happen and we are very excited to be able to bring an action-packed week of tennis, while raising valuable funds for NHS heroes to say thank you for the amazing work they have done.”

Meanwhile, the Women’s Cycling Tour will go virtual next month after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s edition.

The six-stage Women’s WorldTour event had been due to take place between June 8-13 but was initially postponed in March before confirmation of its cancellation came earlier this month.

But organisers will fill the void with three virtual stages between June 17 and 19 using the RGT Cycling virtual platform.

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