Coronavirus: Super League bosses agree to pay cuts

Super League chief executive Robert Elstone is to take a 40 per cent pay cut.

Other Super League executives will take a 30 per cent cut as the sport reacts to the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Like all sports, rugby league is currently suspended due to the outbreak and the financial implications for the sport are likely to be serious.

The 12 Super League clubs are likely to take advantage of the furloughing initiative, in which the UK government will pay 80 per cent of salaries up to £2,500 a month.

Elstone said last week: “I think every club and Super League is looking very closely at how that allows us to get through this situation.

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Jordan Henderson interview: Liverpool captain reflects on how mentality shift has been key to success under Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been reflecting on the season so far, how he and his team-mates are keeping in touch and how Jurgen Klopp changed the club’s mentality during an interview with Jamie Carragher for Sky Sports.

Klopp’s side find themselves potentially two Premier League games away from a first league title since 1990, but the coronavirus pandemic has placed professional football at a virtual standstill around the globe.

Liverpool voluntarily suspended all activity at their Melwood training headquarters on March 13 following the Premier League’s announcement fixtures would be postponed until April 4.

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That has since been pushed back until the end of next month, with a further announcement expected on Friday at the next Premier League meeting. It leaves Liverpool – like all Premier League clubs – facing an uncertain time, but the runaway leaders have adapted to the unprecedented set of circumstances.

Henderson told Sky Sports: “We’ve been given our own training programmes to do, a bit like during off season when you’re on holiday doing your own stuff to keep ticking over.

“We’ve got a group chat so we’ve got all sorts of videos flying in with different challenges for us to do. So there’s a bit of banter and just normal stuff, really, so things are going well so far.

“Even the manager’s in the group chat! Everybody is, it’s all one big group chat and there’s all sorts of things which go into it so it’s a good idea in terms of keeping us busy.”

After narrowly missing out on the Premier League title last season to Manchester City, Henderson admits the disappointment spurred him and his team-mates on to go one step further this time around – but Liverpool’s dominance this term has been two years in the making.

Losing the Champions League final against Real Madrid was the worst feeling in my career. It gave us that extra bit of fuel to the fire to go again

Jordan Henderson

“I think losing the Champions League final the year before against Real Madrid, that was the worst feeling in my career in football and for a lot of us,” Henderson said. “Having been through that having played such a good season, I felt we were going in the right direction and were still improving.

“It gave us that extra bit of fuel to the fire to go again the following season. We felt there was still more to come from us as a team, and what we then managed to achieve in the league and the Champions League was fantastic.

“To lose the league on the last day was a sore, tough moment for the team, but then within a few weeks it was the best moment of our careers so far. It was a quicker turnaround in terms of emotions last season, from May to the start of June. It was massive for us as a team to finally get the first trophy over the line. Since then, the confidence has just kept growing.”

Developing a taste for silverware

Liverpool started the 2019/20 campaign with defeat on penalties to Manchester City in the Community Shield, but shootout success would swiftly follow in the European Super Cup against Chelsea.

The message under Klopp was clear back then in August, with the club keen to win as many trophies as possible over the coming nine months.

“It was really important for us as a team,” added Henderson when reflecting on the showpiece event in Istanbul. “Having won the Champions League, we were determined to carry on winning trophies, so it became a habit. When you get a taste for it, you want it more and more.

“That’s what has led to winning the Club World Championships and performing so well in the Premier League. We didn’t just want to be known as the Champions League winners, so to pick up two more trophies so soon after that was really important for us as a team.”

While Liverpool carried on where they left off at the start of the season, despite a curious lack of clean sheets, Manchester City dramatically dropped points at home to Tottenham before defeats to Norwich and Wolves.

It allowed Liverpool to open a six-point lead, which was preserved at Aston Villa in early November after two late goals secured a 2-1 win. It felt a seminal moment in the season, coming the week before the two title protagonists met at Anfield.

“That mentality and resilience within us this season has been massive,” said Henderson. “I feel that’s something the manager tried to instil in the squad when he first came in. When he first arrived, I remember him talking about never stopping and never changing your mentality within a game.

“I remember him saying right from the very beginning, no matter what the score, to keep going until the very end as you never know what can happen in football. If I look back at the games he’s been here I think of the game against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League.

“I feel it’s been a progression over a few years and not just one season. This year has been massive in terms of how consistent we’ve been, but I feel it’s been a work in progress and now it’s just part of our identity to never change the mentality until the game is finished.”

From also-rans to Klopp’s mentality monsters

Klopp attempted to convey this message to the supporters early on in his tenure when he criticised some for leaving the stadium early in December 2015. He was ridiculed in some quarters for locking hands with his players in front of the Kop following a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to West Brom, but the togetherness he has nurtured in nearly four-and-a-half years is paying huge dividends.

“Looking back at that West Brom game, it wasn’t about the result,” reflects Henderson. “It was more about the mentality, and that’s when the manager could start to see a change. There were tough moments within that game, but he was happy with the way we reacted.

“The manager is always looking at how we react to conceding goals or losing momentum. It’s always about how you react, and the manager is always looking for that. It’s been a really big part of our game for a long time now.”

Liverpool duly opened a nine-point lead over City following that win at Villa Park, leading to Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane to describing the title race as “done” by mid-November.

Henderson admits there is a definite rivalry between themselves and City that has emerged over the past couple of seasons.

“Every time you come against them, you know they’ve got such a good team,” he said. “You know it’s going to be a tough game no matter what. Especially with that game being at Anfield, we felt that if we gave it everything, we knew we could hurt them and get a result that would put us in good stead in terms of our position in the league.

“There’s no hiding from the fact it did feel big. When you go head to head with your title rival and win, it does feel like a double hit. It was a big result, but the mentality was still all about the next game as we know how quickly things can change in football.

“It’s a big thing about this team over the past couple of seasons has been the focus and work ethic of the team always looking to the next game very quickly and respecting every team we come up against.”

How Liverpool overcame defining festive schedule

In early December, Klopp surprised onlookers with his much-changed team selection for the first Merseyside derby of the season, coming a week before the squad was due to fly out to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

It was part of a hectic period of 14 games in six weeks either side of Christmas, which Liverpool successfully navigated albeit exiting the Carabao Cup to Aston Villa at the quarter-final stage with an under-strength team.

Marco Silva was coming to the end of his turbulent Everton reign and arrived at Anfield on the brink of being sacked, but despite missing six first-team regulars in Alisson, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, Henderson, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, the hosts cantered to a 5-2 win.

“The manager has always been really big on the strength of the squad,” the Liverpool captain continued. “It’s not just about the 11 that might be playing that day. There’s a lot of good players that might not even make the 18 sometimes.

“When we achieve something, it is down to everyone, not just what everyone sees on a weekend. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes and on the training ground where the intensity needs to be high and no one can drop their heads.

“It’s a big strength of ours that we’ve managed to use really well as when we make changes the intensity has been there in training. The manager has shown a lot of faith in young players and he knows we’re all ready to go as he’s seen them throughout the week.”

Henderson revealed a lot of Liverpool’s sessions at Melwood this season have been largely focused on recovery due to the high level of games the side has been faced with, but that has not led to any complacency among those who have been regularly selected.

“As a player, reading into things is not the right thing to do because the manager can always change it,” Henderson said. “Training, no matter what, you need to be at 100 per cent because you never know what team the manager is going to pick.”

It would seem over the past decade, no matter what side has been fielded against their local rivals, Liverpool have had the edge, with Everton’s last win in the derby coming back in October 2010.

Silva became the first Blues manager to concede five league goals against Liverpool in a single match since Howard Kendall in November 1982, but Henderson still views the encounters as significant for those in the city.

He said: “It’s still unique. They’re still derby games, and all derbies are special. Having been here for so long, I do feel that. The manager will always tell us to use the adrenaline that you get for a derby in the right way. It’s about not getting too emotional within the game. We’ve found a good balance of doing that over a long period of time now so hopefully that can continue.”

Liverpool went from strength to strength with a 1-0 win at Tottenham in January meaning the side set a new European points record, taking their tally for the season to 61 from 21 matches – the best start to a campaign for any team in the history of Europe’s top five leagues.

Now 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, a first title in 30 years looked all but assured. Henderson, however, believed those who criticised Liverpool’s performance that evening were right to do so.

“Looking back at the game, it was a great result to go to Spurs and win,” he said. “You can never take wins in the Premier League for granted, but at the same time I felt we should never have got ourselves in the position we found ourselves in during the last 10 or 15 minutes.

“We were so comfortable in the game and we should’ve made it a lot more comfortable with 2-0 or 3-0. It was very close to them coming back into the game and very nearly conceded. But that’s the expectation level of the team. We’re always thinking of how we can perform better.

“We’re always trying to improve, trying to listen to the manager on the training field and trying to implement that at the weekend.”

‘Improvement, not records, has always been the focus’

Prior to the shutdown, Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea and were defeated in extra-time in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid – two setbacks which came after stuttering performances in the league at Norwich, against West Ham and Bournemouth albeit in victory.

The 3-0 loss to Watford at Vicarage Road brought an end to hopes for an undefeated league season, and the chance of eclipsing Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten record.

Henderson said: “We knew the time would come when we might drop points or suffer a defeat. We knew it would come so we were prepared for how to react.

“We never really spoke about the record in the dressing room, to be honest. The main aim was to just keep winning games. The ultimate goal is still to win the league, so after that loss, we spoke and the focus was still on the next game.

“Everybody else was talking about the records, but when you’re winning games and taking each one as they come, the records follow. You’re always just focusing on how you can improve, and that was our thought process after the Watford game.

“It felt really bad, like it does losing any game of football, but it was the manner of the defeat which really disappointed us. It wasn’t a performance that we had seen from us from a long time, but the next day in training, the lads’ attitude was onto the next game, learning from the mistakes we made.”

Liverpool’s procession to their first Premier League title has been put on hold, with the competition’s chief executive Richard Masters holding the next meeting with member clubs on Friday.

Henderson, like most people, is monitoring all government advice with the situation under constant review, but supporters have been assured he and his team-mates will be in the best physical condition possible when the competition finally resumes.

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Sky Sports bust common football myths: Game of two halves?

They often say it’s a game of two halves – but how often do results change after the break? We’ve checked every Premier League result since 1992 to bust the myth…

Sometimes a game appears to be beyond a team at the half-time whistle and it’s suggested that a rousing team talk could reverse fortunes. After all, it’s a game of two halves, right?

In fact, the half-time result – win, lose or draw – has been unchanged at the final whistle in 6,507 out of 10,794 games – so there is a 60 per cent chance that the half-time result will also be the full-time result.

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In terms of seasons, 2004/05 really was the season of two halves – with 46.1 per cent of games ending with a different result than the first half, followed by 1999/00 (43.4 per cent), 2002/03 (42.6 per cent) and this season (42.4 per cent).

In contrast, 2009/10 produced the highest number of unchanged results with 64.2 per cent of games ending as it was at the break, followed by 1998/99 (63.7 per cent), 2010/11 (63.4 per cent) and 2003/04 (62.9 per cent).


Bradford City were the most likely team to finish a game with a different result, with 51.3 per cent changing after the interval during their 76 top-flight games, followed by Swansea (45.1 per cent) and Cardiff (44.7 per cent).

Conversely, a league-low 31.6 per cent of Blackpool’s results changed during their single campaign in 2010/11, followed by Swindon (33.3 per cent) and Oldham (35.7 per cent).


Despite the fact only 40 per cent of results change during the second interval, it’s 26 per cent more likely that a goal is scored after the break. In total, 12,673 goals have been scored during the first half and 15,970 in the second.

Since 1995/96, when the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams, 2010/11 and last season produced the highest number of first-half goals with 476, while only 398 were scored in 2008/09 – close to the 357 scored already this term.

During the second interval, a 25-year-high 602 were scored in 2011/12 and 2016/17 – but just 498 were converted during 2005/06 (427 this season).

We will be busting more common myths every day this week. If you’re reading on, comment below to join the debate, but please respect our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click ‘Report’.


Two of the greatest examples of games with distinctly different halves involve the identical fixture: Manchester United vs Tottenham.

In September, 2001, Spurs led United 3-0 at the break but ended up losing the game 5-3 at White Hart Lane. United achieved another five-goal overhaul over Tottenham in 2009, recovering from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 5-2.

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England international Jade Moore joins Orlando Pride from FA WSL side Reading

England Women midfielder Jade Moore has left Reading Women to join NWSL side Orlando Pride.

The 29-year-old has spent the last three seasons with the Royals and moves Stateside on an initial one-year deal.

Moore will link up with World Cup winner Alex Morgan at Orlando, as well as Brazil’s six-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta.

“I think one of the biggest things for me is that this is a fresh challenge, a new league,” Moore said.

“I’m really excited about that, coming overseas, and taking me out of my comfort zone to play against different players and play against the best players in the world.

“When this came about it ticked every single box of what I wanted at the next part of my career.”

The move reunites Moore with Pride boss Marc Skinner, who she previously worked with when the pair were at Birmingham City.

Skinner is thrilled with capture of the 50-cap England international, who he insists will give Orlando’s midfield a completely different dimension.

“Simply put, Jade is the complete midfielder,” Skinner said.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi on overcoming coronavirus and fighting for Euro 2020 England spot

Callum Hudson-Odoi is itching to get playing again after fighting off coronavirus and is already targeting a place in the England squad for the postponed Euro 2020 Championships.

The Chelsea winger received a positive diagnosis of coronavirus in March, becoming the first Premier League player to contract the virus.

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After suffering only mild symptoms, Hudson-Odoi was quick to reassure fans he was on the mend and says that after three weeks of resting at home, following football’s widespread shutdown, he is back to full fitness.

Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, Hudson-Odoi said: “I am feeling perfect. I had the virus which has cleared now. I fully feel good, I feel fit, so I am feeling back to myself so it is all good.

“I had it [coronavirus] three weeks ago now I think, on a Monday when I felt a bit hot. The next day I was feeling back to normal. I thought it was just a minor temperature thing, but obviously it wasn’t.

“Everyone has been asking me how I have been which has been class from them.

“It has been very warming and a good feeling to know you have got your team-mates behind you, backing you and making sure you are feeling well and encouraging you.”

The 19-year-old is excited to make up for lost time on the pitch, but has urged football fans to be patient and follow the government’s guidelines on social distancing.

Hudson-Odoi – Premier League stats this season

Appearances – 29

Goals – 1

Shots – 29

Assists – 5

“Everything is happening so fast and I did not know this virus would be such a major thing and so big in the world and affect so many people,” he said.

“Everyone has to be careful and judge things how they go and hopefully the virus will go soon and everyone will be back to normal.

“I want the football to come back as soon as possible, I’d want it to come back today if it could but this thing (pandemic) is growing and it is going to keep growing so the thing is we want everyone to stay safe and stay well.

“We want to be out there playing football and we want to enjoy what we are doing and we want the fans to be enjoying everything with us.”

Football’s shutdown interrupted another promising season for Hudson-Odoi that had included three goals in 25 appearances for the Blues.

When play does resume, Hudson-Odoi has his sights set on impressing England boss Gareth Southgate and earning a spot at Euro 2020 – which has been postponed until 2021.

“For me it is an opportunity to show again and keep pushing myself to the max to hopefully have an opportunity to go to the Euros,” he said.

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Emoji Quiz: Name that football club!

Forget the phrase ‘another day, another dollar’ – in these unprecedented times of isolation it’s ‘another day, another emoji quiz’.

Sky Sports is here to help you pass the time through this challenging period and, following the success of Tuesday’s emoji quiz, we’re back with another, this time focusing on football clubs.

  • Emoji Quiz: Name that player!

Now it’s over to you to see if you can reveal the names of 10 clubs from across Europe, but before you get cracking though, here’s two handy pre-quiz tips – keep it simple and say what you see!

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Gary Neville on Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd transfer policy

In the latest Off Script, Gary Neville explains Sir Alex Ferguson’s successful transfer policy at Manchester United.

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Neville explained how Ferguson worked within three distinct categories, creating a “slow conveyor belt” of transfers in and out of the club, which led to huge success over a 27-year stint at Old Trafford.

You can listen, watch and read the full Off Script episode with Neville discussing Man Utd’s transfers across our Sky Sports platforms from 7am on Thursday.

“There were three categories,” Neville explained to Geoff Shreeves. “His policy was to promote youth wherever possible, that was No 1 before he even looked at the external market.

“No 2 was to look at the best in the Premier League, those he could trust, and still have growth and be with the club for a long time. Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie.

“And then he always wanted emerging international talent that could come over to Manchester, that he could work with and develop into great players. Nemanja Vidic, Peter Schmeichel, Patrice Evra, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“He very rarely ventured into the world of buying the complete star, and it’s not far off Pep Guardiola’s tactic with Manchester City right now.

“In terms of selling players, he would get rid when they either weren’t good enough, or when he felt they were questioning his control. He was ruthless on that.

“United’s strategy was like a very slow conveyor belt. A few would come in, and a few would leave. Never more than a handful each season, never a massive adaptation of the squad.

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Anthony Joshua against Deontay Wilder remains a key clash at heavyweight, says Carl Froch

Anthony Joshua against Deontay Wilder remains a key fight in the debate about the world’s best heavyweight and Oleksandr Usyk has more to prove, says Sky Sports expert Carl Froch.

It would be good to see Joshua fight Wilder, that remains a decent match-up, even though Wilder was outclassed by Tyson Fury. I still want to see that fight. It would be a measuring stick to see where Joshua is – and it would be a good test to show that he can beat Wilder as well.

A win for Joshua over Wilder builds the Fury fight even bigger. At the moment, Fury seems to be top dog after taking the WBC title from Wilder. They are going to meet again in a third fight and both will remain big names afterwards, regardless of the result. Why not put AJ against Wilder at some stage and really show that Joshua means business.

There’s a good crop of heavyweights at the very top. You might also see Dillian Whyte taking on Wilder and then he could target the Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury winner.

Froch’s world heavyweight top five

We need to see Whyte back at his best, because he wasn’t in peak condition for his win over Mariusz Wach in December. We’ve seen him looking good beforehand, particularly against Oscar Rivas, I was impressed with that, and his victory over Joseph Parker. Whyte is definitely in the mix, but he just needs a really big fight. He’s beaten everyone they’ve stuck in front of him, apart from AJ, but that was early on, so you’ve got to put Dillian up there.

He boxed that journeyman in his first fight in the division and I wasn’t really impressed.

Carl Froch on Oleksandr Usyk

You’ve got to have Andy Ruiz Jr in the top five, because he firstly defeated AJ before losing to him. His only previous defeat was against Joseph Parker on points. You cannot say Daniel Dubois yet and I’ve got my reservations about Oleksandr Usyk, just purely because he’s not a natural heavyweight and he’s not beaten any of the big names. He boxed that journeyman in his first fight in the division and I wasn’t really impressed. He did what he needed to do, but his opponent was hapless.

Fury is just in front of Joshua in top spot. Part of my reasoning for this is because he was lineal champion, beating Wladimir Klitschko a few years ago to become champion and never lost the titles in the ring.

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British GP: Silverstone to wait until end of April on July race call

Silverstone will wait until the end of April before deciding whether the British Grand Prix can take place on July 19.

The first eight rounds of F1 2020 up to mid-June have been either postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The British GP was scheduled to be round 12 on the weekend of July 17-19 and organisers say they and F1 officials will continue to monitor the situation over the next month.

“Silverstone and Formula 1 remain in close dialogue regarding the ongoing situation and are assessing the feasibility of holding the British Grand Prix on 17th – 19th July,” read a statement.

“We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s and, therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision.

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Steven Davis’ opener letter: Northern Ireland captain’s open letter thanks essential workers and the NHS

I am fortunate to be a professional footballer, playing at a high level. However, like most people, I have a daily routine.

My typical day usually involves training, conditioning, gym work and team meetings. And, of course, I also get to play football matches for a living. And I know I am in a privileged position in doing that.

However, right now everyone’s routine has gone out the window due to Covid-19.

Apart, that is, from essential workers around the globe. For them each day is overwhelming. Their workloads have increased sharply, the pressure is intense, and it’s not going to ease any time soon.

While the majority of us are working from home, tens of thousands are out there on the front line, whether it’s NHS workers, delivery drivers, supermarket staff or those working in food outlets.

I applaud them all, especially those working in our hospitals and those testing for the virus who are putting their own health on the line to help others. They are true heroes.

When all this is over may we never take for granted the moments we’ll never forget 💚 #GAWA #StayAtHome

Naturally, like any sportsperson, I miss being out on the pitch, the banter in the changing room and the joy of victory. However, I am a father with a wife and young children plus a wider family circle – and I know that in these unprecedented times sport does not matter.

Fans love to support their teams, whether it’s football teams, rugby teams or other teams, and they also love to support individual sportspeople such as golfers and tennis players, but right now the most important thing is to support each other and the authorities so we can fight back against coronavirus.

My heart goes out to those around the world who have already lost loved ones, to those who have contracted the virus and to those who are anxious that the virus may affect them and their families, friends and neighbours.

And I also feel for people who, through no fault of their own, fear they may have no job to return to once the situation calms down.

Many are also feeling lonely so please pick up the phone if you can and stay in touch with friends, family and neighbours – or use the internet and social media for social interaction. We all need our spirits lifted in difficult times.

This is a serious situation, a global pandemic, and I would urge everyone to follow the rules set by the Government and health authorities. These rules are in place for a reason. They are aimed at minimising the spread of this horrible disease and battling against it.

Stay safe and stay at home if you can. If you do have to leave your home please follow the rules on social distancing. And remember to wash your hands thoroughly as often as you can.

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