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Coronavirus wrap: Tour de France delayed as Arsenal rule out furloughing staff

Tour de France 2019 – Stage 21 – Rambouillet to Paris Champs Elysees
(Image credit: Pete Goding/PA Wire)

The Tour de France has been delayed until August while Arsenal will avoid furloughing staff as coronavirus maintains its grip on sport.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, confirmed on Wednesday that the Tour will be pushed back by two months.

It will now take place between August 29 and September 20, having initially been scheduled to start on June 27, and will be contested over the same route as was planned for the original dates without any changes.

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UCI president David Lappartient said: “I would like to pay tribute to the representatives of the organisers, teams and riders for their collaboration and their commitment in these difficult times.

“We have established a framework that will allow the fundamental rights of teams’ riders and staff to be preserved, while enabling the measures necessary for the survival of these teams to be taken.

“Together, we will manage to get through this crisis and rebuild cycling post-Covid-19.”

Arsenal will not be using the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme as “productive” pay discussions with players continue during “one of the most challenging periods in our near 134-year history”.

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Tottenham and Bournemouth have recently followed Liverpool in reversing their controversial decisions to utilise the furlough system and Arsenal have said they will not use the scheme, while also extending casual employees’ pay until the end of May.

The club’s executive team have voluntarily waived more than a third of their earnings over the next year to cope with a challenging time that owners Kroenke, Sports & Entertainment “are fully committed to supporting Arsenal through”.

A statement from the Gunners read: “The suspension of football and the broader global economic impact of the virus mean that many of our revenue streams are on hold or are at risk.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contracting Covid-19 was the catalyst to the Premier League halting when it did

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contracting Covid-19 was the catalyst to the Premier League halting when it did (John Walton/PA)

“The potential financial impact is significant so we must be responsible and act now to best protect Arsenal from what might happen in the months ahead.

“What is clear is that this is one of the most challenging periods in our near 134-year history.”

Arsenal have made it clear to employees through video conferences, newsletters and team meetings that they are “not considering redundancies”, with all employees receiving their full salaries.

Arsenal's players are in discussions with the club

Arsenal’s players are in discussions with the club (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The club intend to continue on that track and say they “are not currently intending to use the Government’s furlough scheme” and are still working on an agreement with players.

Arsenal’s squad this week reportedly rejected a 12.5 per cent pay cut for a year, with that money repaid if qualification was secured for next season’s Champions League.

“Over the past 10 days we have been in discussions with them around the potential financial challenges ahead, and how we are planning for those now,” the statement continued.

Gary Neville, David Beckham and Phil Neville are among Salford's co-owners

Gary Neville, David Beckham and Phil Neville are among Salford’s co-owners (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Away from the Premier League, Salford co-owner Gary Neville suspects there is a “serious problem brewing” for players in the English Football League coming towards the end of their contracts.

The former Manchester United and England defender fears that the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic is such that players whose current deals finish at the end of June will struggle to find new clubs.

“There is a serious problem brewing in the next few months,” Neville told Sky Sports News’ Football Show.

“Over 1,000 players in the Championship, League One and League Two are out of contract at the end of June and clubs haven’t got the money to recycle them back into the game.”

Meanwhile, Juventus pair Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi have been given the all-clear after contracting coronavirus last month.

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In cricket, the board of Cricket Ireland has announced a range of measures in a bid to try to deal with the financial impact of the pandemic.

Regular payments to the Provincial Unions are continuing and the board has approved a range of cost-saving measures, with all non-playing staff seeing a 20 per cent reduction in salaries for April and May.

Those in Northern Ireland will be furloughed until the end of May on the UK Government’s job retention scheme, while Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom will take a 25 per cent cut until the end of the year.

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Saracens have announced their intention to furlough some members of staff and ask higher-earners to take a partial wage deferral.

The Gallagher Premiership club issued a statement in which they said they had asked all employees earning more than £75,000 to defer payment of their salaries over and above that amount until the start of the 2020/21 season.

Chairman Neil Golding said: “We understand this is really tough for everyone but the reality is that the only way to survive this unprecedented situation as a club is to make these adjustments.”

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