Friday 13 March 2020 4:55 pm

Coronavirus sport updates LIVE: Wales v Scotland called off in dramatic U-turn as Premier League and EFL suspended

Welcome to City A.M.’s live rundown of all the latest sporting events to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Please refresh your browser for live updates.

The Premier League, EFL and FA have decided to suspend all matches until early April following an emergency meeting this morning.

A number of other sports, including two Six Nations matches and England’s Test series in Sri Lanka have been postponed. The Formula One Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled.

Read more: Coronavirus: The impact on the sporting world as numerous events are disrupted

4.50pm: Arteta on the mend

Some positive news to end the day. Mikel Arteta says he is already starting to make a recovery.

He took to Twitter to call for a united front. He was diagnosed with Covid-19 yesterday, sparking an emergency Premier League meeting this morning, which ultimately led to the postponement of fixtures.

“Thanks for your words and support. Feeling better already,” the Spaniard said.

“We’re all facing a huge and unprecedented challenge. Everyone’s health is all that matters right now.

“Protect each other by following the guidelines and we’ll come through this together. Well done PL (Premier League) for making the right decisions.”

4.20pm: IOC committed to keep Olympics on

The International Olympic Committee says it is still committed to staging the Tokyo Games as scheduled.

Earlier on Friday, the Hellenic Olympic Committee announced it would cancel all Greek legs of the Olympic Torch Relay due to the coronavirus.

The IOC’s statement read: “We fully understand the decision taken by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) in association with the Greek Ministry of Health to cancel the Greek leg of the Olympic Torch Relay.

“The handover of the Olympic Flame will happen as scheduled on 19 March 2020. The International Olympic Committee confirms its full commitment to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

3.35pm: Rugby League games given green light

Rugby League is set to continue this weekend as normal despite most of the UK postponing football matches and all Six Nations matches in Rugby Union being off.

The Rugby Football League has said “fixtures remain in place for the weekend”, although Leeds Rhinos game with Catalans Dragons will not go ahead after one player showed symptoms of coronavirus.

Salford Red Devils host Wigan in tonight’s Super League match and have asked fans to “avoid unnecessary physical contact with each other and players”.

The RFL added in a statement: “At all times the RFL has followed and is following the government’s guidance as requested.

“We will of course monitor the position carefully for any changes and communicate in due course should any update be required.”

3.19pm: National League matches are still on

The National League has decided that matches across its three divisions will go ahead following a board meeting this afternoon.

It means the tiers beneath the English Football League will be the only football matches to be played in the UK over the weekend.

Earlier today the Premier League, EFL and FA postponed matches until April, while the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also postponed games.

In a statement, the National League said: “The National League will keep the operation of its competition under constant and diligent review, and will remain in compliance with government advice at all times.

“The Football Association has offered its guidance, and made it clear the decision to continue or to suspend a competition is a matter for each league to make.

“The National League places the welfare and well-being of all those involved in and connected to its competition as the highest priority.

“All Clubs and supporters are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest public health advice, which is available here.”

2.32pm: The Masters is to be postponed

The Masters, which is the first major on the men’s golfing calendar, has been postponed.

It was due to take place from 9-12 April at Augusta National and a new date is yet to be confirmed.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said: “Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision.

“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”

2.20pm: Wales v Scotland OFF

In a dramatic U-turn, the Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland has been called off just 24 hours before it was due to kick-off.

As recently as a few hours ago, the Welsh Rugby Union had insisted the match would go ahead in front of 75,000 fans at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

In a statement, the WRU said: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

1.53pm: Giro d’Italia has been postponed

One of the year’s major cycling tournaments, Giro d’Italia, has been postponed.

It was due to take place between 9 and 31 May, but organisers RCS Sports have officially called it off.

It comes after the Hungarian government announced earlier today that they would no longer be hosting the opening stages of the event due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“In response to the spread of the coronavirus the Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency,” read a statement from RCS. “This prohibits the organization of mass events and makes it impossible to organize international events. As a consequence, the Organising Committee of the Giro d’Italia’s Hungarian stages declared that the Giro’s start could not be held in Hungary at the originally scheduled time.

“All parties have agreed that they are determined to work together to enable the Giro d’Italia to depart from Hungary at a later time.

“RCS Sport, having taken note of the international and national situation, announces that the date of the 2020 Giro d’Italia is thereby postponed.”

It added that a new date will not be decided until 3 April at the earliest, which is the end date of for recent Italian government decree.

1.14pm: IPL season start suspended

The Indian Premier League has also been suspended today as organisers BCCL pushed it back until next month.

There had been some contingency plans to start the tournament behind closed doors on 29 March.

However, it will now not begin until 15 April, in attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

“The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” a BCCI statement said.

“The BCCI will work closely with the Government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard.”

12.47pm: Formula One postpones Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix

Formula One races in Bahrain and Vietnam have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was due to take place next weekend, with Vietnam’s inaugural race scheduled for 3-5 April.

The season is now due to begin in Holland on the first weekend of May, however that is subject to change.

Formula 1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey, said: “The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and its right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions.

“We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans. The Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting race in our schedule, and we look forward to being back there as soon as we can.

“We are also looking forward to Vietnam’s inaugural race and bringing the spectacle of F1 to one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

12.21pm: Premiership Rugby Cup final to go ahead

The Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins is still set to take place at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Sale said the match will go ahead because “there is no advic that indicates the game will be affected”.

The club said: “There will be hand sanitisers upon entry to the AJ Bell Stadium and antibacterial handwash in all the washrooms, as well as posters reinforcing the official medical advice for everyone to take responsibility for their own personal hygiene.

“We are taking precautionary measures and players will be avoiding physical contact with the general public when possible. We ask supporters to refrain from requesting autographs and ‘selfies’ at this time.

“We will continue to take the best advice from the relevant authorities and will update supporters with any further developments.” 

RFU Championship matches are still set to be played this weekend.

It is unclear whether next weekend’s scheduled Premiership Rugby matches will still be on. City A.M. has contacted them for contact.

11.47am: Scotland suspends all football due to coronavirus outbreak

The Scottish FA has announced all professional and grassroots football will be suspended with immediate effect and “until further notice”.

Scotland had planned to ban mass gatherings from Monday, meaning this weekend’s matches, which included an Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic, could go ahead.

However all games have now been called off, following the lead of the English FA, EFL and Premier League.

Ian Maxwell, Scottish FA Chief Executive: “Since the guidance outlined by governments last night we have been engaged in extensive dialogue to clarify the position and implications of that guidance for Scottish football.

“Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game. This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”

11.28am: Bahrain and Vietnam F1 races in doubt

Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, Formula One now faces a decision over next weekend’s race in Bahrain.

McLaren had pulled out of the race in Melbourne after a team member tested positive for Covid-19 and 14 personnel are now in quarantine as a precaution.

It is understood a delay over the races cancellation was down to a disagreement between F1 and Australia’s race organisers about whether the event should go ahead.

However, next weekend’s race in Bahrain, which was already due to take place behind closed doors, is now also in doubt. As is the subsequent Vietnam Grand Prix, with announcements expected later today to confirm they will be off.

If confirmed, it will mean the earliest the season could begin would be at the Dutch Grand Prix in May.

11.07am: Premier League joins EFL in suspending games

The Premier League has joined the EFL in suspending matches until 3 April in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

It means all professional football across England has been called off for at least three weeks.

It comes after Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi were diagnosed with Covid-19.

Meanwhile Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy, three Leicester City players, and the entire first-team squads of Everton and Bournemouth, are all self-isolating.

The FA has also agreed to postpone games for the same period. It means England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark scheduled for later this month will not go ahead, while the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship are also suspended.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “Following a meeting of Shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time.

“Despite the challenges, it is the Premier League’s aim to reschedule the displaced fixtures, including those played by Academy sides, when it is safe to do so.

“In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19.

“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”

11.01am: Champions Cup ties in doubt as France calls off rugby

French rugby has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

French Rugby president Bernard Laporte said it was a decision taken in “national interest” and it comes after France’s Six Nations match with Ireland was suspended.

It means Ulster’s Champions Cup quarter-final with Toulouse on 5 April is all but certain to be suspended.

“We ask our entire network to scrupulously respect these instructions,” said Laporte.

“All championships, of all categories without exception, are suspended, as well as all activities of the Rugby Schools, in order to effectively combat the spread of Covid-19.”

The Pro14 has also been suspended indefinitely. The Irish Rugby Football Union has said no rugby will take place in Ireland until at least 29 March.

10.44am: EFL suspends matches until 3 April

The English Football League has opted to suspend all matches until 4 April, starting with immediate effect.

It means tonight’s match between Fulham and Brentford will not go ahead.

The EFL held an emergency meeting this morning to discuss the coronavirus and the board agreed unanimously to suspend the forthcoming matches, up until the 3 April.

However, it is not yet clear what the plan from there will be, despite the likelihood that the virus will still be spreading at that point.

It is thought that the Premier League, which has convened an emergency meeting this morning, is likely to follow suit.

10.30am: England’s two Test tour of Sri Lanka has been postponed

The English and Wales Cricket Board has announced that the Test series in Sri Lanka, due to begin next Thursday, has been postponed amid the coronavirus fears.

One of the main considerations is understood to have been the 3,000 travelling supporters, as well as the players and staff members who are already currently in Sri Lanka.

A statement from the ECB said: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England,” said an ECB spokesperson.

“At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation. We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important Test series.”

10.12am: Uefa postpones next week’s European matches

Uefa has this morning announced that next week’s Champions League and Europa League ties are to be postponed.

Manchester City’s tie with Real Madrid, and Juventus’ match against Lyon, had already been suspended. But now the other two Champions League Round of 16 affairs and eight Europa League round of 16 second legs have also been called off.

Uefa said: “In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed.

“Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course.”

It also means that the quarter-final draws, scheduled for 20 March, have also had to be postponed.

9.58am: Wales v Scotland to go ahead

The Welsh Rugby Union has confirmed tomorrow’s Six Nations match with Scotland in Cardiff is set to go ahead.

It comes despite both Italy v England and France v Ireland being postponed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday there was not yet a need to cancel major sporting events despite the spreading virus.

A statement from WRU read: “WRU representatives have been in dialogue with Welsh Assembly Government minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, who provided much needed clarity on the Cobra meeting held yesterday.

“Throughout the WRU Board have followed the scientific advice of government, Public Health Wales and medical experts and determined that any game would be held or postponed based on that advice.

“Enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation will be available at the stadium and there are measures in place to manage any issues with attendees on the day. In addition supporters are urged to follow the advice that is widely available on government websites in relation to the virus.”

9.45am: Everton first-team in self-isolation

Everton’s first-team squad is now in self-isolation after a member of the squad reported symptoms of the coronavirus.

The club has taken the decision to close down all its workplaces including training facilities at Finch Farm and its stadium, Goodison Park.

In a statement, the club said: “The club is in regular contact with the player in question and is monitoring the wellbeing of all players and staff.

“Everton will continue to adhere to UK Government and Public Health guidelines with regards to the closure of its facilities and wellbeing of staff and will be discussing next steps with regards to upcoming fixtures with the Premier League on Friday morning.”

9.37am: Formula E’s season suspended

Formula E has suspended its season for the next two months. It had already been forced into postponing April’s race in Rome, with Italy the worst affected European country by the coronavirus outbreak.

But now events in Seoul, South Korea, and Paris, France, are set to follow suit.

The decision comes in part due to the sport’s ethos of racing in city centres and has been made in agreement with governing body, FIA.

The series had to cancel its Hong Kong race earlier this season due to civil unrest in the region.

Formula E founder and chairman, Alejandro Agag, said: “Right now is the time to take responsible actions and this is why we have decided to temporarily suspend the season.

“Motorsport plays a major part in our lives and it is important, but what is more important is the health and safety of our staff, fans and their families, as well as citizens in the cities we race.”

9.22: English Football League considers suspending season

The English Football League is also set to hold a meeting today “to make a decision on this weekend’s fixtures and beyond.”

Latest reports suggest that the EFL are likely to take the decision to suspend upcoming matches.

Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony took to Twitter this morning to say he did want his team’s with Bolton this weekend to go ahead. Adding that one of Peterborough player was now in self-isolation.

“My manager & I agree btw does not want to travel to Bolton tomorrow. One of our players is now in self isolation awaiting results,” he said.

“We just played Pompey who just played Arsenal. Will be reaching out to @EFL today re this & if they are going to make us play tomorrow.”

9.15am: The Players Championship cancelled due to coronavirus

In golf, this weekend’s PGA Tour’s Players Championship at Sawgrass has been cancelled.

Organisers had originally insisted the tournament would continue, with the remaining three rounds to go ahead without spectators.

However, a decision was later taken to cancel the tournament altogether, as well as the next three weeks of PGA Tour events, in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

“We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavouring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

9.00am: Premier League to hold emergency meeting

The Premier League is expected to hold an emergency meeting at 10.30am this morning after it was revealed late last night that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had contracted coronavirus.

Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi has also tested positive for Covid-19, while Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy and three unidentified Leicester City players are in self-isolation after showing symptoms.

The news broke late on Thursday after the Premier League had released a statement to say that this weekend’s matches would go ahead as usual.

Arsenal’s match with Brighton this weekend has since been postponed with members of the first-team squad and staff having to self-isolate.

There have been calls for the Premier League to suspend the season, following in the footsteps of LaLiga and Serie A.

It comes after Arsenal’s match with Man City, due to be played on Wednesday, was postponed after it was revealed that Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner, Evangelos Marinakis, who had contact with players at the Emirates two weeks earlier, had tested positive for the virus.