Marcus Rashford has urged the stars of tomorrow to "pick up your ball and get out in the garden" after the academy season in England was called off due to coronavirus.

Youth leagues were ended on Friday, with the United Kingdom still in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Premier League and English Football League still hope to restart the season, academy teams must now look to 2020-21 rather than attempt to complete their campaigns.

England striker Rashford, a graduate of Manchester United's academy, expressed sympathy for the young players who have had their seasons cut short.

But he insisted this must not be a time in which they fall out of love with football.

"The news you got yesterday was probably not what you wanted to hear," Rashford tweeted on Saturday.

"I know all you want to do is play because I'm the same but the decision has been made to protect everyone involved. This is bigger than football.

"You might be feeling a bit low but the best thing you can do is pick up your ball and get out in the garden.

"When I was in the academy I used to find a spot in the garden and aim for targets just so I could practice my accuracy, get creative!

"Now is not the time to fall out of love with the game, it's a time to remember why you fell in love with it in the first place. You've got this and we can't wait to see you all back next season!"

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could leave Arsenal during the next transfer window because they have become a selling club, former Gunners captain Tony Adams has said.

Only Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, with 19, has scored more Premier League goals in 2019-20 than Aubameyang, who netted 22 times last season to become one of the three players to win a golden boot.

The striker's form has led to suggestions Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain could try to lure the 30-year-old away from north London once the transfer window opens.

Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Robin van Persie are among the leading players to have departed in recent seasons, and Adams fears Aubameyang, whose deal expires next year, could follow suit.

"Quite possibly, he could walk out the door," Adams told Sky Sports.

"I loved Arsene Wenger's principles, that no player was bigger than the club, and he moved players on if it made sense for the club financially.

"He was strong with that and he got Champions League football every year but it did stand in the way of recruitment - so we have become a club that is selling the best players.

"If I was a coach I'd be saying, 'Don't sell Aubameyang at any price, we need to recruit, bring players through the academy and keep our best players'."

Adams cited how during his time at the club, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira were among those brought in and retained.

The 2003-04 'Invincibles' won the last of the club's 13 league titles, and Adams insists Arsenal will not be able to challenge again if they continue to cash in on their best players.

"It is a completely different club today and I think recruitment at Arsenal for a good few years has not been great," Adams added.

"Now we seem to be selling our best players and you are never going to recruit a championship squad selling all your best players."

Few footballers have enjoyed the worldwide acclaim which came the way of David Beckham.

Originally a superstar at Manchester United, he later became a 'Galactico', an MLS trailblazer and one of England's most-capped players.

Here, on his 45th birthday, we look at the highs and lows of his career.

 

HIGH - A STAR IS BORN AT SELHURST PARK

The goal that changed everything. Back in August 1996, Beckham was a promising young midfielder who had just become a regular for United, his boyhood club.

Then he spotted Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan off his line and dispatched an arching effort over his head and into the net from his own half, raising his arms aloft in celebration as if to acknowledge he had truly arrived.

"When my foot struck that ball, it kicked open the door to the rest of my life," he wrote in his autobiography.

LOW - THAT SIMEONE KICK

An England debut followed soon after that goal and Beckham was a regular for his country during the qualifiers for World Cup 1998.

Yet at the tournament itself, one petulant kick out at Argentina's Diego Simeone resulted in a red card and meant Beckham swiftly went from hero to villain.

Glenn Hoddle's team lost on penalties in the last 16 but Public Enemy No. 1 had already been identified, with an effigy of Beckham even hung outside a pub.

 

HIGH - A TREBLE WINNER

Beckham followed up his World Cup disappointment by turning in the best season of his United career in 1998-99, when Alex Ferguson's side famously won the treble.

The midfielder had 11 assists in the Premier League and one of his six goals came in the come-from-behind win against Tottenham that sealed the title.

Later that month he would slot in at central midfield in the Champions League final, with United dramatically beating Bayern Munich thanks to two late goals which came from Beckham corners.

HIGH - SEALING QUALIFICATION AGAINST GREECE

Cometh the man, cometh the hour.

In October 2001 England were on the verge of missing out on automatic World Cup qualification when trailing Greece 2-1 at Old Trafford, only to win a last-gasp free-kick 30 yards from goal.

Beckham, by then Sven-Goran Eriksson's captain, stepped up and dispatched one of his finest, and most important, free-kicks into the net. Next stop: Japan and South Korea.

 

HIGH - REDEMPTION IN SAPPARO

Four years after Argentina had eliminated from the World Cup, England faced one of their arch-rivals again in the group phase.

And when Michael Owen took a tumble as Mauricio Pochettino dangled a leg in the box, Beckham stepped up with a chance to right the wrongs of Saint-Etienne.

He thumped the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle and celebrated with an outpouring of relief as England won 1-0.

LOW - PAYING THE PENALTY

'Golden Balls' was not always deadly from set-piece situations and it was a missed spot-kick that contributed to England's quarter-final exit against Portugal at Euro 2004.

Beckham began the tournament by missing from 12 yards when England led 1-0 against France - Fabien Barthez saving that effort - and two goals from Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane, including one from the penalty spot, meant the Three Lions were beaten.

Later in the tournament Beckham missed his third straight penalty for his country and blamed the turf for an effort that ballooned over the crossbar, with Portugal going on to win 6-5 in the shoot-out.

 

HIGH - A LALIGA TITLE FROM THE GALACTICO ERA

Beckham had left United for Real Madrid in 2003, the latest 'Galactico' to join Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Raul in the Spanish capital.

However, as he approached the end of his fourth and final season with the club, he had just a Supercopa de Espana medal to show for his efforts.

Beckham had already agreed to join MLS side La Galaxy in June 2007 when he won his first LaLiga winners' medal, though it was his replacement in the final match against Mallorca, Jose Antonio Reyes, who ultimately scored the goals which sealed the title.

 

HIGH - BACK-TO-BACK MLS CUPS

The rise of MLS in recent years owes much to Beckham's impact, the England midfielder having brought interest and respectability to the competition when he went Stateside.

It had looked like being an ill-fated spell in 2009 when Beckham was booed by Galaxy fans on his return from a loan spell at Milan which saw him miss the first half of his second MLS season.

A similar arrangement followed the next season, but Beckham would be around for the entire 2011 and 2012 campaigns, both of which ended with Galaxy winning back-to-back MLS Cups.

HIGH - BOWING OUT WITH ANOTHER LEAGUE TITLE

Not content with league titles in three countries, Beckham added a fourth with Paris Saint-Germain before he was done.

He played 10 times in the latter stages of the 2012-13 campaign having signed a short-term deal that would see his entire salary donated to a local children's charity.

Beckham was made captain for the final match of his career, a 3-1 victory over Brest on May 18, 2013, and he was reduced to tears when he was substituted in the second half.

Frank Lampard admitted "it would not sit well" if Premier League players were tested ahead of key workers who are serving on the front line during the coronavirus pandemic.

After a meeting of its stakeholders on Friday, the Premier League issued a statement to reaffirm their commitment to completing the 2019-20 season, though only when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Media reports have suggested plans are tentatively in place for a resumption in the middle of June, almost certainly at neutral venues, with the United Kingdom government involved in what has been called 'Project Restart'.

Players, coaches and club staff would require testing before top-flight fixtures can be staged again, however, and Chelsea boss Lampard insists such measures should not be done at the expense of NHS employees or careworkers.

"The idea of the health and safety of the players is huge," Lampard told BT Sport.

"The country has practiced social distancing so well and the fact we play this contact sport that we are so desperate to see for a form of escapism, if anything, so how are we not going to put the players at risk within that?

"The other issue is talking about the testing that we are going to be doing.

"We probably have 70 or 80 staff at Cobham, minimum, if we are going to restart training. If we're going to test regularly, then that's fine.

"But when when we're looking around the world - and I don't know the testing numbers for the NHS and careworkers, these people that are doing incredible roles over the last two months or so - I don't think it would sit well, not just with me but with anybody, if we didn't make sure the people that are getting tested are on that front line.

"That's important for football to take its place.

"After that, we probably have the football issues, which would be neutral venues and out of contract players, of which we have a couple of major players, so there are many conversations and I think that's very clear at the minute."

Daniel James feels it is a "bit too much" to be compared to Wales team-mate Gareth Bale.

Winger James made an instant impact for Manchester United following his arrival from Swansea City prior to the 2019-20 season, scoring on his home debut in a 4-0 win over Chelsea.

He has since managed to add two more goals in the Premier League, as well as another for the Red Devils in the Europa League before the ongoing campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-year-old's lightning pace and willingness to run at opposing players has led some to draw similarities to Bale, yet James instead sees the Real Madrid superstar - who he describes as a "just a normal guy" - as an inspirational figure.

"I don't think you can compare me to him," James told Sky Sports.

"To play with him at Wales is obviously amazing. For anyone that doesn't know him, he's such a great guy. Just a normal guy really. He's great with the youngsters and great around the place.

"But to be compared to him is a bit too much, I think.

"What he's done in his career, how he changed from a left-back to a left midfielder, to win the Champions League... it's just amazing what he has done.

"Players like him are the ones you look up to, but I think being compared to him is a bit silly."

James has also had the chance to play alongside one of his childhood idols at club level this season, having always admired Juan Mata.

The Spaniard is not just a role model on the pitch, however, also helping the new boy settle in at Old Trafford.

"When I first met him, he came and sat next to me in the changing room and said, 'I know it's a big move for you, if you need anything here is my number and if you ever need to talk about anything I'm here.' That was obviously great for me," James revealed.

He added on Mata: "He's just someone that I've always looked up to and to play in the same team as him is just surreal for me."

Barcelona are reportedly looking at Jadon Sancho as an alternative if they cannot land Neymar.

Neymar is linked with a return to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain, where he arrived from Barcelona for a world-record €222million in 2017.

But the LaLiga giants have options.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO AN ALTERNATIVE TO NEYMAR FOR BARCELONA

Borussia Dortmund star Sancho is an alternative to Neymar for Barcelona, according to Sport.

The cover of the Spanish daily says Barca are thinking of Sancho if they are unable to bring Neymar back to the club.

Sancho was enjoying an incredible season with 14 goals and 15 assists in 23 Bundesliga games when the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Liverpool may not be trying to sign the forward. The Mirror reports the Premier League leaders look almost certain not to do any transfer spending in the close season.

- Lyon forward Moussa Dembele has enjoyed another good season with the Ligue 1 club. The Manchester Evening News reports Dembele would find it hard to turn down a move to Manchester United in the next transfer window.

- Miralem Pjanic could be set for a Juventus exit. Marca reports the pieces are falling into place for the midfielder to join Barcelona. It says another player could enter the deal if Arthur does not agree to leave the LaLiga giants.

- Staying at Barcelona and Sport reports the door is open for the club to land Layvin Kurzawa on a free at season's end with Porto's Alex Telles seemingly nearing a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at Milan in 2021, but La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the goalkeeper could extend his deal by a year and plan a path forward, with the coronavirus pandemic likely to impact the upcoming transfer window.

- Rayan Cherki, 16, scored three goals in 12 games for Lyon this season, seemingly leading to some interest. AS reports the teenage forward is being watched by Real Madrid.

Leicester City fans could be forgiven for still thinking the images of Andrea Bocelli belting out 'Nessun Dorma' on the King Power Stadium pitch and their heroes lifting the Premier League title were part of a wonderful dream.

Sports quiz aficionados of the future are likely to scratch their chins and rack their brains when trying to remember Wes Morgan as a title-winning captain.

Indeed, had any of these scenarios been presented as possibilities prior to the 2015-16 campaign, the orator of such suggestions would likely have had to contend with a fair amount of pointing, laughing and concerned looks.

And yet, despite pre-season odds of 5,000-1, Claudio Ranieri's cunning Foxes outlasted challenges from the Premier League's big hitters to complete a fairytale story that resonated throughout the world of football.

May 2 marks four years to the day since Leicester's moment of glory was confirmed after Tottenham's 2-2 draw with Chelsea, and to mark the occasion we have looked back at some of the most unlikely title triumphs in football history.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1977-78:

When Brian Clough took over at the City Ground in January 1975, Forest were languishing down in the old Second Division. A couple of years later Forest were promoted and under the stewardship of the maverick Clough they were crowned champions in their first season back in the top flight. Forest went on to win the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 in a golden era for the club.

HELLAS VERONA 1984-85:

In modern times Hellas Verona are known as a perennial yo-yo club, flitting between Serie A and B. But in the mid-80s, led by Osvaldo Bagnoli, they were top of a star-studded pile. In a league including Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Inter), Michel Platini (Juventus) and Diego Maradona (Napoli), a well-crafted Verona side sat top of the pile in a shock considered one of the greatest in Italian football.

SAMPDORIA 1990-91:

Just six years on, and with Juventus, Napoli (twice), Milan and Inter each having won the title, there was another surprise in Italian football as Sampdoria became champions for the first time. Yugoslav coach Vujadin Boskov had already led Samp to two Coppa Italia successes and a European Cup Winners' Cup before a strikeforce of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini inspired the crowning glory. Arrigo Sacchi's memorable Milan side fell short, while an Inter team including Italia '90 World Cup winners Jurgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme were third.

DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA 1999-2000:

Barcelona and Real Madrid may presently have a stranglehold on LaLiga, but back in the 99-00 campaign it was Deportivo, a modest provincial club in the south-west of Spain, that rocked the apple cart - in part thanks to the financing of former president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro. A squad including Roy Makaay, Pauleta and Flavio Conceicao celebrated a famous LaLiga title.

WOLFSBURG 2008-09:

Bayern Munich have historically ruled the roost in the Bundesliga, yet there were five different winners in eight seasons between 2001-02 and 2008-09. The last of those saw Wolfsburg crowned champions for the first time in their history. A 5-0 rout at Hannover was followed by a 5-1 hammering of Werder Bremen in the final game of the season to emphatically complete the job, with Bayern two points back in second. The goalscoring exploits of Grafite (28) and Edin Dzeko (26) were crucial for Felix Magath's side.

AZ 2008-09:

Turns out 2008-09 was a year for upsets. AZ's own success story was described as "my little masterpiece" by Louis van Gaal, who had joined in 2005 after the pressure cooker of life as Barcelona coach. A 28-match unbeaten run was pivotal for AZ, who were champions for just the second time, as they romped to glory ahead of more illustrious names in Dutch football.

MONTPELLIER 2011-12:

Paris Saint-Germain are the modern powerhouses of Ligue 1, but it was a different story in 2011-12, PSG's first season under their wealthy Qatari owners. And rather than the capital giants triumphing, it was unfancied Montpellier celebrating an unlikely success. PSG invested for the future by bringing Carlo Ancelotti to the Parc des Princes in December 2011 and the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez had arrived in the close season. But on the back of Olivier Giroud's 21 goals, Montpellier celebrated their first – and as yet only - top-flight triumph, finishing three points clear of PSG.

LEICESTER CITY 2015-16:

It was an achievement that forced ex-England striker and famous Foxes fan Gary Lineker to present the first episode of the following season's Match of the Day in his pants (albeit only brief-ly). With N'Golo Kante's tireless performances in midfield, Riyad Mahrez's wizardry on the wing and Jamie Vardy's scoring exploits, the Foxes lost just three times in an unforgettable season and finished 10 points clear of Arsenal in second. The usual challengers may have endured plenty of misery but nothing will ever take the shine off a remarkable achievement.

Massive sporting events do not always live up the occasion.

The boxing world was delivered a reminder of that five years ago as a fight a long time in the making proved a drab affair.

It is the unexpected that often produces the most excitement and that was the case during a 2015-16 Premier League campaign that stands as arguably the most memorable in the division's history.

Here we look back at May 2 in the world of sport.

2009: Pacquiao makes light work of Hatton

"From the ends of the earth to the centre of the ring" was the tagline attached to a light-welterweight title bout billed as the' Battle of East and West'.

With seven seconds left in the second round, Ricky Hatton was indeed in the centre of the ring, on his back having been dumped to the canvas by a thunderous left to the chin from Manny Pacquiao.

The fight marked the last at elite level for Hatton, who finished his career in 2012 with a loss to Vyacheslav Senchenko.

Pacquiao has gone on to secure his legacy as one of the greatest boxers of all time, but his journey has not been without its lows, the biggest of which would come six years later at the same MGM Grand Garden Arena venue...

2009: Leinster-Munster semi-final draws record crowd

Leinster v Munster is regarded as one of the biggest provincial rivalries in world rugby, and it reached new heights as the pair met in the Heineken Cup semi-finals at Croke Park.

A crowd of 82,208, a world-record attendance for a club match, witnessed Leinster secure their place in the final with a 25-6 victory.

They would go on to lift the trophy, beating Leicester Tigers 19-16 at Murrayfield.

2012: Messi breaks European club goals record

Lionel Messi's incredible career has been defined by him shattering records and collecting medals at will.

Eight years ago he bettered a mark that had stood since the 1972-73 season with a hat-trick against Malaga.

The treble took Messi to 68 goals for the 2011-12 season, the most by a single player in a European club season.

Gerd Muller had previously held the record with 67. Messi would go on to stretch his advantage over the Germany great, finishing the campaign with a remarkable 73 goals.

2015: 'Fight of the century' fails to inspire

After years of protracted and tempestuous negotiations, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally agreed to touch gloves in the biggest fight of the 21st century.

The contest did not match the hype surrounding it, however, Mayweather maintaining his unbeaten record in uninspiring fashion.

Pacquiao struggled to land punches on a defensive Mayweather, whose tactical acumen won the day in a fight some dubbed 'Better never than late' in the aftermath.

Mayweather followed up that win with a victory over Andre Berto in September, before coming out of retirement in 2017 to defeat UFC star Conor McGregor and improve to 50-0.

2016: Leicester achieve the impossible

The established order of the Premier League was upset in unbelievable fashion in 2015-16 as 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester City, having narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, clinched the title.

Tottenham had been the Foxes' closest challengers in a year where Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all struggled for consistency, with Liverpool and Chelsea well off the pace.

However, it was Chelsea who ended Tottenham's hopes and ensured the trophy would head to the King Power Stadium.

Spurs needed to win at Stamford Bridge to keep their hopes alive and led 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

But Gary Cahill pulled one back and Eden Hazard levelled matters seven minutes from time to spark delirious scenes among the Leicester players watching on TV.

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca insisted he would be trying everything to keep defender Chris Smalling at the Serie A club.

Smalling, 30, has impressed on loan at Roma from Manchester United this season, but reports suggest they may be unable to afford the transfer fee for the centre-back despite wanting to keep him.

But Fonseca is eager to keep the 31-time England international, praising his impact in Rome.

"I will do everything I can to keep him at Roma next year too. I know he wants to stay, let's see what happens," he told ESPN on Friday.

"He's an amazing man, so humble, so professional. He is adored by the fans and established himself as one of the leaders in the dressing room.

"It's not easy for English central defenders to adapt so quickly to Italian football, the record there isn't good, but he has been amazing."

Smalling had made 28 appearances in all competitions for Roma before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner would prefer a move abroad over a switch to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Werner is contracted to Leipzig until 2023 but has been heavily linked with Bayern and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

The Germany international scored 27 goals and supplied 11 assists in 36 appearances in all competitions for Julian Nagelsmann's Champions League quarter-finalists before the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2019-20 campaign to a halt.

While Werner has respect for Bayern and their head coach Hansi Flick, the chance to play in a foreign league is something that appeals to him more.

"Bayern are a great club, we don't need to talk about it, and Hansi Flick has proven this season he is a really good head coach," Werner told Bild.

"But if a move were to become an issue at some point, I would be more tempted by a move abroad than a move to Bayern.

"It's just that the challenge of another league would appeal to me a little more than a move within the Bundesliga.

"And, of course, it also important that mutual respect is there as much as possible. That's why I chose RB Leipzig at the time, and why I would choose the club for [the] next step as one where I would get that feeling."

Werner went into the 2019-20 season in the final year of his contract and was expected to make the move to Bayern at that point.

However, the transfer did not materialise and in August he signed a three-year extension at the Red Bull Arena.

"I can't answer what motivated Bayern back then," he said.

"I am happy and satisfied that I extended my contract here and played in Leipzig this season.

"In my eyes I have developed further under Julian Nagelsmann and have matured as a personality and taken on more responsibility.

"I am totally grateful for that. I really appreciate what I have at RB Leipzig and would therefore never say, 'I have to get out of here!'"

Aymeric Laporte says it is "always difficult" without football with the coronavirus pandemic coming during an injury-hit campaign for the Manchester City defender.

France centre-back Laporte has made just eight appearances in all competitions for City this season thanks largely to a serious knee injury sustained in August.

Laporte made his comeback in January but suffered a hamstring strain at the end of February, while the suspension of football across most of Europe due to the outbreak of COVID-19 has been a further frustration.

In an interview with City's website, Laporte said: "I am okay. I am at home, safe. Doing nothing but training a little bit, staying at home and doing some streaming online. 

"I am in Manchester. For me, it was a long time without football on the pitch and it was so difficult. The second time without football and it is always difficult; don't touch the ball, don't be on the pitch in the stadium playing in front of the fans and everything. 

"We have to keep it how it is and waiting for what is the best for our health which is the most important right now."

On his fitness, he added: "I feel fit, no problems. At home I have many things to do, to train, to run. I have a bike, I have weights, I have many things. I cannot do everything, because it is not like being on the pitch. 

"The club gave us a training programme to do at home. Sometimes train together with all of the team. They have given us many things to practice and to do at home."

Laporte said he has now started to join in online gaming with his City team-mates, though was reluctant to offer an opinion as to who is the best in the squad at FIFA. 

"I started yesterday. I will play more games on the internet with many players," he said. 

"Yesterday I was playing with Kyle Walker for example and Raheem [Sterling] today. We will see, maybe I will invite someone to play with me.

 "It depends which games [as to who is the best]. Don't ask me about FIFA because I don't know!

"Everyone says they are the best so I can't pick just one of them. I am not the best for sure! I don't look to improve; I just want to have fun."

Football across Europe's major leagues remains on hold as the continent battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the tide appears to be turning in the fight against the spread of the virus, two leagues have decided the 2019-20 season cannot be resumed.

Others are steadfast in their determination to finish the campaign and crown champions through games that will likely take place behind closed doors.

Here we look at the state of play across the top leagues.

Premier League – SUSPENDED 

All professional football in England was suspended on March 13, putting Liverpool's march to a first top-flight title since 1990 on hold.

Liverpool were a massive 25 points clear of defending champions Manchester City when the season was suspended. The Premier League clubs remain committed to finishing the season "when it is safe and appropriate to do so". 

The league's 20 clubs were reportedly told in a videoconference on Friday that neutral venues would be needed to finish the season.

LaLiga – SUSPENDED

LaLiga saw its season suspended indefinitely on March 23 but preparations for a return appear to be ramping up.

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday that players could return to individual training on May 4.

There remains, however, no indication as to when the season can resume, with Barcelona two points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid, while Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui said players will need "at least five weeks" to prepare.

Bundesliga – SUSPENDED

On hold since March 13, the German Football League (DFL) had been taking steps towards a May 9 return but left the final decision in the hands of the government, which then elected to delay making a ruling until May 6.

Hopes of a resumption next week now appear faint, meaning fans face a longer wait to find out if Bayern Munich, who lead the Bundesliga by four points, can retain the title.

Serie A – SUSPENDED

Friday's emergency meeting of Lega Serie A reportedly saw all 20 teams agree to resume the campaign, suspended since March 9.

All teams in Italy are set to return to training on May 18, the day after the government's existing lockdown measures expire.

Juventus were one point clear of Lazio at the top when the season was brought to a halt.

Ligue 1 – CANCELLED

The decision was effectively taken out of the hands of the French football authorities this week when the government ruled that no sporting events could take place before September.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) met on Thursday and declared Paris Saint-Germain, who were 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, champions on a points-per-game basis. Marseille and Rennes join them in next season's Champions League.

Toulouse and Amiens were relegated and replaced by the top two from Ligue 2, Lorient and Lens, with Nimes spared as the relegation play-offs were scrapped.

Eredivisie – CANCELLED

Following an announcement from the Dutch government last month that all events would be banned until September, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) declared its intention to end the season in the Netherlands.

Ajax and AZ were level on points at the top of Eredivisie when it was suspended, but the decision was made not to declare a champion or relegate any teams. The top two go into the Champions League.

The Premier League has reconfirmed the commitment of its clubs to resuming the 2019-20 season when it is safe to do so but insists a decision has yet to be reached.

Reports earlier this week said England's top flight, which was halted in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, could return within weeks.

United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson was reportedly briefed on a plan to play games behind closed doors in a bid to boost morale with the country still under lockdown measures.

A meeting of Premier League shareholders took place on Friday in which the next steps were discussed for what it has dubbed 'Project Restart'.

The Premier League said it welcomes the support of the government but as yet there is no definitive return date.

"At a meeting of Premier League shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019-20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so," a Premier League statement read.

"It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Premier League's priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.

"The League and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers. The league welcomed the creation of the government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.

"No decisions were taken at today's shareholders' meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding Project Restart. It was agreed that the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association], LMA [League Managers Association], players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.

"The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019-20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the government's support."

The Eredivisie and Ligue 1 opted to cancel the remainder of their seasons but several of Europe's top leagues are still seeking solutions to complete campaigns.

It was confirmed on Thursday the German government had delayed a decision on when the Bundesliga can restart until May 6, while Lega Serie A reportedly revealed on Friday its 20 clubs had unanimously agreed to complete the season.

Liverpool were 25 points clear of second-place Manchester City prior to the Premier League's suspension. 

Hopes are fading that spectators will be allowed into English football grounds before 2021 after a revelation from former Premier League club Bradford City.

Now in League Two, Bradford said they had suspended 2020-21 season-ticket sales after being told of an "ever-growing possibility" of having to play behind-closed-doors games until next year.

Bradford, who were last in the English top flight in 2001, said it was "highly likely" next season would at least begin with games played without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The West Yorkshire club's decision followed their involvement in a conference call with the English Football League (EFL) on Thursday.

Bradford said in a statement: "'City For All' 2020-21 season-ticket sales have today been suspended.

"The decision has been taken as the club continues to await further information regarding a conclusion to the current campaign, with the start date for next season yet to be confirmed.

"This comes following a meeting yesterday held between the EFL and the Bantams' League Two colleagues.

"City officials have recently been informed of the ever-growing possibility of supporters being unable to attend matches until 2021.

"And it is now highly likely that next season will commence behind closed doors."

The 2019-20 season stalled in March with the arrival and spread in England of COVID-19, and reports have claimed the EFL campaign could be abandoned because of the amount of testing that would need to be conducted just to allow closed-doors games to be played.

It remains to be seen whether the Premier League and EFL have joined-up thinking on matters such as playing games without supporters next season.

Although the Premier League has huge broadcast deals, which it is eager to preserve, clubs lower down the pyramid are facing a harsh reality of losing vital matchday income, amid fears many could be forced out of business.

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