Coronavirus: PM puts brakes on swift return for professional sport

PUBLISHED: 08:24 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:24 11 May 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation on Sunday, May 10, 2020.  Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire


Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to have put the brakes on a swift return for professional sport after revealing the coronavirus transmission rate is still too high to significantly ease the lockdown.

Sport in the United Kingdom has been at a standstill for a number of weeks but Premier League clubs are expected to vote on Project Restart’s plans to complete the season at neutral venues in a crunch meeting on Monday.

However, Johnson indicated that – while the general population will be allowed to exercise outdoors more than once a day and play sports from Wednesday – they must do so only with those in their own households.

“We want to encourage more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise,” Johnson said in his Sunday evening televised address to the nation.

“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own households.”

The message would seem to rule out the prospect of football clubs going back to training anytime soon and does not improve the prospects of finishing seasons which were brought to a halt by the public health crisis.

The England and Wales Cricket Board tweeted it is working closely with the Government, adding: “Everyone across the sport is hoping that we will see cricket played across England and Wales this summer.”

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden tweeted: “In tentative steps & in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing – solo/in households. Guidance to follow.”

Football continues to grapple with the potential challenges of a return to action, with a third Brighton player and five LaLiga players testing positive for the virus.

Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber said the unnamed player will go into 14-day isolation. The PA news agency understands the rest of the squad will continue to train both at home and in solo sessions at the club’s training ground.

Two other players, whose names have also not been revealed by the club, contracted the virus earlier in the pandemic. They are understood to have since recovered but it is not clear whether or not they have returned to training yet.

Barber said on Sky Sports News: “Unfortunately we have had a third player test positive just yesterday.

“Despite all the measures we have all been taking over the last few weeks, when the players haven’t been involved in taking any significant training at all, we have still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.

“There are concerns and I think it is normal for all clubs to have those concerns. We want to make sure we do everything that we can to ensure that the protocols that are put into place are safe and secure and mitigate the risk.”

You may also want to watch:

Earlier, LaLiga confirmed five unnamed players have tested positive for coronavirus and will now go into quarantine.

A LaLiga statement read: “After completing the medical tests on the minimum essential personnel referred by the clubs to start training, some cases of Covid-19 have been detected.

“Specifically, between the clubs of LaLiga Santander and La Liga SmartBank, five positive cases have been detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.”

Concerns over player safety are not the only obstacle facing Project Restart when talks resume over plans to restart the Premier League.

Brighton have been critical of the idea that play should resume at neutral venues, despite warning it could be a deal-breaker on football resuming at all.

It is also understood Brighton are against the idea of the current bottom three – Norwich, Watford, and Aston Villa – being relegated if the season cannot be completed.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish is backing Premier League clubs to eventually come to a consensus.

Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against plans to play the remaining 92 games at neutral venues and it is sure to be a point of contention – but Parish hopes clubs can unite.

“There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” he said on The Andrew Marr Show.

“(The meeting) is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back.

“It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”

Some sport did return this weekend, with Justin Gaethje crowned interim UFC lightweight champion after overcoming Tony Ferguson in a five-round classic at UFC 249.

Held amid strict hygiene guidelines in a near-empty arena in Jacksonville, Florida, the event marked the first UFC broadcast since March 7.

Unaffected by the lack of an audience, the main event was a thrilling bout that saw defending champion Ferguson battered by Gaethje for almost 25 minutes before the punishment finally became too much.

Earlier, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defended his title with an emphatic second-round TKO victory against Dominick Cruz before announcing his shock retirement during the post-fight interview.

Other highlights from the event included Francis Ngannou knocking out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds and Anthony Pettis edging out fellow veteran Donald Cerrone in a gruelling battle.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Latest East London Sports News

Yesterday, 08:00

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton understands perspective will be important as they look to get themselves into the League Two play-off places.

Thu, 17:03

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton has revealed it could be a chance for young creative attacker Jordan Maguire-Drew to shine as they travel away to Port Vale.

Thu, 10:00

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton has revealed the club is already working on a number of contract extensions for players, including top goal scorer Danny Johnson.

Wed, 17:00

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton has explained the reasons behind the Port Vale match being swapped to an earlier kick-off.

Wed, 12:00

Leyton Orient defender Dan Happe insists it’s a rare occasion for him to find the back of the net but was more focused on the clean sheet and picking up the win.

Wed, 09:30

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton heaps praise on young defender Dan Happe as he netted the winner in their 1-0 victory over Bradford City.

Tue, 12:00

Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton is hoping to be able to stick with a similar line-up for the Bradford City clash on the back of a 3-0 win over Harrogate Town.


Let’s get physical! One of the dangers of lockdown is to be lulled into laziness, watching too many box sets, and eating and drinking too much, but there is no excuse to not start exercising to get fit and stay healthy.

UK Government Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced extra measures to support workers and businesses throughout winter, including a furlough scheme extension paying 80 per cent of staff wages.

The way the UK does business with Europe changes from January 1, heralding a new start. All companies that trade with the EU need to act now to make sure they are set to go.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Latest from the East London Advertiser