‘Incomplete English season would be an embarrassment’

Mateusz Klich and Derby County’s Tom Lawrence during a match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road, Leeds. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 23 May 2020

‘Incomplete English season would be an embarrassment’

  • Time has come for us to stop repeatedly framing the challenges, says Leeds chief

LONDON: Failure to conclude the Premier League and second-tier Championship seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be considered a “national embarrassment,” Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear has said.

Professional soccer has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak but the Premier League plans to restart the season next month while the Championship will vote next week to decide on how to end their season.

The German Bundesliga resumed last weekend without fans in attendance while other top European leagues are planning to restart their campaigns and Kinnear said it was time English leagues came up with solutions.

“England had some of the finest sports scientists and football administrators in the game and the time has come for us as a sport to stop repeatedly framing the challenges and start delivering on the solution,” Kinnear wrote in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“It would be a national embarrassment if the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A were to be able to complete safely and the first and fifth biggest leagues in the world were not able to follow suit if the context remained comparable.”

Premier League clubs started training sessions with small groups this week with a view of a possible return to normal ‘contact’ training next week.

Leeds are top of the Championship standings after 71 games and would be guaranteed promotion if the final table is decided by an unweighted points-per-game formula. However, Kinnear insisted they want to finish the campaign.

“If Leeds United wanted to be opportunist we could have seized on this ‘point-per-game’ commitment to push for an early curtailment in concert with some already very vocal self-interests,” Kinnear said.

“However, our intention has always been to do all we can to complete this season where we started it – on the pitch.”

German football

Separately in the Europe, Borussia Dortmund’s coach Lucien Favre said his club will again be without Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel when they travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday on the Bundesliga’s second week of action since it restarted.

Witsel has not recovered from muscular problems he suffered trying to regain fitness before last weekend’s resumption of matches.

But former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is fit again and available for selection as Dortmund aim to keep their pursuit of leaders Bayern Munich on track with a victory.

Giovanni Reyna, the 17-year-old son of former US international Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna, is also set to play some part after what would have been his first Bundesliga start was thwarted last weekend when he injured himself in the warmup before the 4-0 win against Schalke.

Favre also said he was still hopeful German international Marco Reus, who injured groin muscles in February before matches were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, could return to action before the end of the season.

“He still hasn’t trained with the team. We hope he’ll be able to return as quickly as possible and help us,” Favre said.

Dortmund trail Bayern by 5 points but face the reigning champions at home on Tuesday in a match that could prove crucial in deciding the outcome of the title race.


India’s legendary Olympic hockey hero Singh dies at 95

Updated 25 May 2020

India’s legendary Olympic hockey hero Singh dies at 95

  • Singh was in teams that won the Olympic title in London in 1948 and Helsinki in 1952
  • Singh scored two of India’s goals at Wembley stadium and became one of the biggest stars of the Games

NEW DELHI: Balbir Singh, who won three Olympic hockey golds for India and became one his country’s biggest sporting heroes, has died at the age of 95, his family said Monday.
Singh was in teams that won the Olympic title in London in 1948 and Helsinki in 1952 and led the side that won in Melbourne in 1956. His five goals in the 6-1 defeat of the Netherlands in 1952 remain a record for an Olympic final.
India beat the former colonial power Great Britain 4-0 in the 1948 final which came only a few months after his country’s troubled independence.
Singh scored two of India’s goals at Wembley stadium and became one of the biggest stars of the Games. “I was on top of the world,” he said later.
“It was very special to beat the former rulers in their country.”
Singh was also the manager of the Indian side that won the 1975 World Cup. “He was a hard task master,” said Ajit Pal Singh, who was captain of the 1975 team.
“I still remember how he imbibed, self belief and unity which helped us to win,” Pal Singh told Press Trust of India news agency.
Singh was one of the key figures in India’s golden era of hockey dominance. The men’s team have not won an Olympic title since their eighth gold at the 1980 Moscow Games.
Singh had been in hospital after suffering three heart attacks in recent weeks.