Coronavirus hits sport: Arsenal, Sheffield United announce COVID-19 wade deferral agreements

English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Sheffield United have announced measures designed to minimise the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

After fellow clubs Southampton and West Ham announced wage deferral agreements with their players, Arsenal have made a breakthrough with their squad on Tuesday (NZ time).

The 'Gunners' say they have reached a "voluntary agreement with our first-team players, head coach and core coaching staff to help support the club at this critical time", after "positive and constructive discussions".

A statement from the north London club read: "In these conversations, there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

"Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 percent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days.

"If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts.

"We will be able to make those repayments, as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

"The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019/20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues."

Meanwhile, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and chief executive officer Stephen Bettis have agreed on a deferral in wages and relevant bonus payments to ease the financial burden at this uncertain time.

The pair have been joined by the senior coaching staff, who have also agreed to the deferrals for the next six months to assist EPL side United "with retaining staff and continuing to pay 100 percent of their salaries during this difficult period".

Blades boss Wilder said: "It is a difficult time for everyone and that includes football clubs, and this particular measure is all about our football club."


Twickenham takes on virus-testing role

England's iconic Twickenham stadium has been turned into a COVID-19 drive-through testing programme.

National Health Service staff and other key workers will be able to get tested at the site, via an appointment system, following the likes of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Brighton's Amex Stadium in setting up testing facilities.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said: "The RFU is pleased to be able to support the COVID-19 drive-through testing programme at Twickenham Stadium for NHS and other key workers.

"We receive tremendous support from frontline services during match days at Twickenham and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to support key workers during this severe national crisis with the use of our site and staff to support operationally."


South Africa postpone Sri Lanka cricket tour


South Africa's limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka, scheduled to take place in June, has been postponed, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams were due to play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games, with the 50-over matches South Africa's first in the International Cricket Council's new ODI league.

"It is very sad that we have been forced to take this step, and we will reschedule the tour as soon as cricket returns to a sense of normality and our international fixture list allows," Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul said.

"Our Proteas would not have been able to prepare properly, taking our lockdown situation into account and more importantly, health considerations for our players, which are always paramount, were the over-riding factor."

South Africa's next scheduled tour is to the West Indies for two Tests and five Twenty20 matches in late July and August, the latter forming part of the country's build-up to the 20-over World Cup in Australia starting in October.