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Sport as it was may be back on the horizon

Amidst the details of the Prime Minister’s cautious, once and for all, “road map” out of Lockdown 3 announced yesterday, UK sports fans, clubs and players/athletes will have taken particular interest in the 17th May and 21st June milestones within it applying to the potential return of crowds to sports ground for matches and events.

Specifically, from 17th May (all the qualifying health/safety criteria having been met in the meantime, of course) indoor events limited to 1,000 people or 50% of venue capacity – whichever it lower – will be permitted.

For outdoor events the equivalent limits will be 4,000 people or 50% of venue capacity (whichever is lower) unless the venue/ground concerned is a fully-seated venue with a 10,000 capacity – or 25% – whichever is lower.

From 21st June – again, not forgetting that all qualifying health/safety must still have been met, this being the absolute priority – it is possible that the Government will allow large fully-seated venue/grounds to begin admitting near full-capacity crowds.

Meanwhile there seem to be an increasing number of weird or eyebrow-raising developments taking place in sports across the spectrum.

Here are a couple of recent ones:


In England the RFU and Premiership Rugby, administrator of the elite clubs in the land – two organisations whose interests on the face of it ought to be in permanent fundamental conflict – have stitched up a deal whereby for the next two seasons there will be no relegation from the Premiership league.

Last time I looked (which granted was some time ago) the Premiership had amassed accumulated losses in excess of £40 million with all but one club routinely posting annual losses – and that singular club only managing it by sleight of hand within its group of companies/businesses.

Historically promotion to, and relegation from, the Top Table had been a cherished principle of rugby’s proud camaraderie/community culture.

Now the second tier – and worse, also every level below – has been left to fend for themselves in a hostile economic climate and the RFU seems to have washed its hands of the problem.

Shame on them.

Separately, yesterday it became clear that – with the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer now increasingly in the balance because of the pandemic – tentative plans to organise a series of Lions matches in the UK have been raised with the Government.

Twice in the past 25 years the British Lions have officially played matches in the Northern Hemisphere – once in Cardiff and once in Paris.

As it happens, I attended both and was mightily disappointed each time.

Folklore has it that touring with the Lions as a supporter in the Southern Hemisphere is one of the greatest experiences to which any British or Irish rugby fan can aspire.

However, traditionally the whole ethos of the Lions is built around the fact of being what might as well be a million miles away from “civilisation” and the sense of camaraderie and adventure this brings to the table for both players and fans.

Playing what amounts to a “friendly” game on home or French soil inevitably seems empty of that special Lions atmosphere and, frankly, second rate by comparison.

It my view any Lions games now organised in the UK will tend to devalue the Lions brand.

That said, see here for a link to a piece by Ian Foy on the latest proposals that appears today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL


A controversial subject now coming to the fore in the world of track and field events is that of an apparently technologically-significant advance in the design of sporting footwear.

Is the recent rash of new world and other records being posted across many athletic distances the result of pure athletic excellence … or merely the product of athletes taking advantage of “level playing field-busting” scientific advancement?

What times might Roger Bannister or Seb Coe have achieved if they’d run on the latest all-weather tracks and in these new-fangled “super spikes”?

See here for an article by Sean Ingle that appears today upon the website of the – GUARDIAN