Brighton player gets coronavirus ahead of EPL restart call

General view outside the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, Britain. (REUTERS File Photo)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Brighton player gets coronavirus ahead of EPL restart call

  • Brighton says it now has three players infected with the coronavirus
  • The first one was diagnosed March when the league was suspended

LONDON: A Brighton player tested positive for the coronavirus as Premier League clubs prepare for talks on Monday about how to resume the competition during the pandemic.

The southern England club told The Associated Press there is no need for other members of the squad or coaches to self-isolate because players have only worked in isolation when at the
training base.

Brighton said three players have now had the coronavirus, having announced the first diagnosis in March when the league was suspended. The players have not been named.

“Despite all of the measures that we’ve been taking over the past few weeks, where the players haven’t been involved in any significant training at all, we’ve still suffered another player testing positive for the virus,” Brighton chief executive Paul Barber told broadcaster Sky Sports on Sunday.

Clubs are yet to resume group training as they abide by government social distancing regulations.

BACKGROUND

Brighton have opposed plans to have to complete the season in neutral stadiums rather than being able to play their five remaining home games at their stadium.

The Premier League has government support for “Project Restart” and it will be trying to secure agreement among the 20 clubs on the plans during a conference call with them on Monday.

“The safety of players and staff is top of that list, everyone’s working hard to minimize risk for those groups,” Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth said. “Then there’s a series of things: Where will the games be played? When can we start? When can the players train to make sure they’re not at risk of injury? How will the games be aired?

“The most important thing is safety, then you can look at the whole thing and discuss how it can all look, it’s about putting together the pieces of the jigsaw once we have a better idea of what the plan looks like.”

Brighton have opposed plans to have to complete the season in neutral stadiums rather than being able to play its five remaining home games at its stadium. Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury said at least six of the league’s 20 clubs are concerned about the use of up to 10 neutral venues, despite police saying that is the only safe way of completing the season.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has been a rare public voice from within the Premier League coming out in support of the plan that envisages playing games again in June.

“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,” Parish told the BBC. ”(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.”


Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

Updated 11 August 2020

Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

  • Barca-Bayern promises to be a thrilling tie even without their supporters

LISBON: With just two former winners left in the competition, no Cristiano Ronaldo and no fans, the Champions League moves to Lisbon this week for the start of the “Final Eight” with the intriguing prospect that a new format could lead to a new name on the trophy.

However, the shadow of the coronavirus looms large after it was announced on Sunday two individuals from Atletico Madrid, one of the teams involved in Portugal, have tested positive.

"On Saturday, all members of the first team and the club's party to Lisbon underwent tests as required by UEFA protocols," said a club statement.

"Among the results known today, two positives have appeared and they are self-isolating in their respective homes."

It was not revealed whether the two positive cases involved players or backroom staff.

Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with five European Cups each, are in contention for the title but only one will reach the semifinals —  they meet each other in the quarterfinals at the Estadio da Luz on Friday.

With Barca desperate for more European success before Lionel Messi, who turned 33 in June, moves on, and Bayern looking a fearsome proposition led by Robert Lewandowski, that promises to be a thrilling tie despite the lack of supporters.

But maybe this time the glory will go to someone new altogether, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both having reason to believe this will be the year they are rewarded for a decade of decadence fueled by the immense wealth of their owners in the Gulf.

"The big clubs lift the titles," was how City boss Pep Guardiola put it after his team knocked out Real Madrid on Friday.

Perhaps Atletico, back where they lost the 2014 final to Real, will at last go the extra step under Diego Simeone, or perhaps there will be a shock winner in RB Leipzig, Atalanta or even Lyon.

At this level, Atalanta are the minnows and it would be a remarkable story if they won the trophy in their first appearance in the Champions League after the terrible suffering of their hometown Bergamo during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is as a direct result of COVID-19 that UEFA have taken the Champions League to the Portuguese capital for the latter stages.

The competition restarted on Friday after five months in hibernation because of the pandemic. The final was initially due to be played in Istanbul in late May before being postponed.

The final will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on August 23. The “Final Eight” will start at the same ground on Wednesday when Atalanta face PSG.

Whoever wins that will meet Leipzig or Atletico for a place in the final, while City or Lyon will meet Bayern or Barcelona in the other semifinal.

The most unusual Champions League has already seen Real — winners of four of the last six editions — go out in the last 16 along with holders Liverpool and Juventus, who were eliminated by Lyon on Friday despite the best efforts of Ronaldo.