Tom Dempsey, who once held the record for the longest NFL, has died of coronavirus, the New Orleans Saints confirmed.

Dempsey, 73, played for the Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills across an 11-year NFL career that began in 1969.

He won All-Pro honours as a rookie and converted the longest field goal in each of his first three NFL campaigns, feats all the more impressive as he was born without toes on his kicking foot.

On November 8, 1970, Dempsey slotted over a then-NFL record 63-yard effort against the Detroit Lions.

That was a standalone record until Jason Elam equalled it in 1998. It was not until 2013 that the mark was finally bettered by the Denver Broncos' Matt Prater.

Dempsey, who was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989, continued to live in New Orleans after his career finished and had been battling Alzheimer's disease and dementia since 2012.

A statement from Saints owner Gayle Benson read: "The New Orleans Saints family is deeply saddened and heartbroken at this most difficult time.

"Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations.

"He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humour.

"He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

Australia coach Justin Langer is open to the idea of playing games behind closed doors once cricket can resume after the coronavirus pandemic.

Langer watched on as his side emphatically defeated New Zealand in a one-dayer played inside an empty Sydney Cricket Ground last month.

It was due to be the first of three matches between the trans-Tasman rivals, though the series was cut short due the COVID-19 outbreak as the Black Caps returned home in time to avoid quarantine restrictions.

While there is no immediate sign of a resumption to the international schedule, staging contests without any supporters could be a viable option in the future.

"The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play," Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there's value in that (playing behind closed doors).

"Yes, it's different, but we'll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do."

Australia are due to play a two-Test series in Bangladesh in June, followed by a limited-overs tour to the United Kingdom that runs into July.

 

United States president Donald Trump is unsure when sport can resume in the country, but hopes it is "sooner rather than later".

With the coronavirus pandemic having brought sport to a standstill around the world, Trump spoke with leaders of the USA's leagues and organisations via a call on Saturday.

The NBA, NHL, MLS, PGA Tour and NASCAR seasons were among those suspended, while the start of the MLB campaign was pushed back and there are concerns over the NFL.

Trump hopes to see sport resume shortly, telling a media conference: "I want fans back in the arenas.

"Whenever we're ready, as soon as we can obviously and the fans want to be back too, they want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey, they want to see their sports.

"They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air."

Asked about a possible resumption, Trump said: "I can't tell you a date.

"But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later. We're not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet.

"We need it for this period of time, but eventually people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life."

More than 64,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll in the USA exceeding 8,400.

Dietmar Hamann is the latest former Liverpool player to criticise the club's decision to place staff impacted by the Premier League's suspension on furlough, stating they are going against their values by doing so.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing a prolonged hiatus for football, Liverpool announced their intention to furlough non-playing staff on Saturday.

Members of the workforce that are affected can claim 80 per cent of their wages – up to £2,500 a month – from the United Kingdom government, though Liverpool will top up any shortfall in their pay.

Liverpool became the fifth Premier League club to announce the measures, with all of them attracting criticism as detractors feel profit-making businesses owned by wealthy individuals or groups should not be receiving assistance from the British taxpayer to cover wage costs.

Hamann's former Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher slammed the club, claiming the move will have lost them "respect and goodwill", and now the German has hit out.

"Astonished by the news that @LFC takes advantage of the furlough scheme to claim 80 per cent of non-playing staff wages back off the government," he wrote on his official Twitter account.

"That's not what the scheme was designed for. Contrary to the morals and values of the club I got to know."

Liverpool had previously received praise for Jurgen Klopp's displays of compassion at the start of the pandemic, while Jordan Henderson is reportedly spearheading an attempt from Premier League players to raise funds for the National Health Service.

But Saturday's news has attracted widespread scorn, with it coming less than six weeks after the club announced pre-tax profits of £42million for the year ending May 2019.

Much of the world has been forced to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, with most professional sport consequently on hold for the foreseeable future.

With the outbreak occurring at a particularly inopportune moment for top-level football in Europe, the situation has bred uncertainty across most leagues – including Italy's Serie A.

Once normality returns, should finishing the season be the priority, regardless of the impact it might have on future campaigns?

At the moment, concluding the 2019-20 campaign appears the most likely option. However, even with Euro 2020 pushed back by 12 months, clubs and leagues are still having to work to tight schedules, with UEFA requesting seasons finish by the end of June.

Other views have been aired, with Italian Footballers' Association (AIC) president Damiano Tommasi suggesting the 2019-20 season could already be over, but while the debate rages on during the hiatus, the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers behind the scenes.

With all 20 teams having either 12 or 13 league matches still to play, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.

 

The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.

 

JUVENTUS ARE CHAMPIONS... AGAIN

The results in our model see Juventus retain the Scudetto, accumulating 87 points.

Undoubtedly the story of the season in Italy has been the rise of Lazio, who have mounted a genuine title challenge and went into the forced hiatus just one point adrift of the summit.

With Ciro Immobile's goals and Luis Alberto's creativity in midfield, Simone Inzaghi's men have excelled and delighted neutrals with their entertaining football.

But, in our model, Juventus see them off in the title race, with Maurizio Sarri picking up where Massimiliano Allegri left off last term and guiding them to a ninth successive Serie A title.

However, their points haul is their worst since getting the same amount in 2014-15.

INTER SETTLE FOR THIRD

For much of the first half of the season, Inter looked destined to push Juve all the way in the title race.

Under Antonio Conte and with Romelu Lukaku leading the attack following his move from Manchester United, Inter appeared invigorated.

But their form since the turn of the year has dipped, leaving them nine points off the top when the season was put on hold, though they had a game in hand.

In the simulation they did not recover to overtake either of the top two, finishing third on 79 points. 

Nevertheless, this would still represent an improvement on last season, when they only amassed 69 points and finished fourth.

 

MILAN SCRAPE EUROPA LEAGUE PLACE

It has been a difficult few years for Milan, and this season has not been much better.

Stefano Pioli's appointment as coach late last year has seen them improve somewhat, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's arrival also giving the team a boost.

But there remains a lot to fix with the Rossoneri, with the squad lacking in quality and the hierarchy at odds with each other.

The simulation has Milan finishing seventh and that would be enough to scrape a Europa League spot, as the other three teams left in the Coppa Italia semi-finals with them are all predicted to end the season higher than Pioli's men in Serie A, therefore qualifying for Europe already.

Roma and Napoli take fifth and sixth, with Atalanta rounding off the Champions League spots in our model thanks to a five-point advantage over the Giallorossi.

SAMPDORIA AVOID THE DROP, RIVALS GENOA NOT SO LUCKY

Only one of the current bottom three escapes relegation in the simulation, with Lecce preserving their top-flight status at the expense of Genoa.

Il Grifone and bitter rivals Sampdoria sit just above the drop zone in reality, but our predicted table sees Genoa drop to Serie B for the first time since 2006-07 – last season they only guaranteed their survival on the final day.

The model has Genoa eventually reaching 36 points, but Samp and Lecce manage to climb to 41, giving them both a healthy five-point cushion.

Brescia unsurprisingly prop up the predicted table, given they are nine points from safety in the real standings. Our AI team give Brescia a 1.8 per cent chance of avoiding relegation.

Also going down in our predicted table are SPAL, whose haul of 29 points - one more than Brescia in this experiment - leaves them well adrift of safety.

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) claims "essential public services" would lose important revenue if players take the 30 per cent pay cut proposed by Premier League clubs.

Highly-paid stars have come under increasing public pressure to commit to a wage reduction after the coronavirus pandemic brought England's top flight to a halt until at least May.

Liverpool on Saturday joined Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth in placing a number of non-playing staff on furlough. The scheme sees the United Kingdom government cover 80 per cent of an individual's wages up to the value of £2,500.

Health secretary Matt Hancock called on footballers to "play their part" and Premier League clubs agreed at a meeting on Friday to approach them over a pay cut.

No agreement was reached with the PFA, which suggested it was not the right approach, mooting that services such as the National Health Service (NHS) could suffer a financial blow.

However, the players' union stated a "substantial contribution" will be made once talks have been concluded.

The PFA's statement read: "The players are mindful that as PAYE [pay as you earn] employees, the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services - which are especially critical at this time.

"Taking a 30 per cent salary deduction will cost the Exchequer substantial sums. This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services.

"The proposed 30 per cent salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500m in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government.

"What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the health secretary, Matt Hancock, factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?

"We welcomed the opportunity to discuss this with the Premier League today and we are happy to continue talks.

"It is our priority to finalise the precise details of our commitment as soon as possible. However, to achieve a collective position for all Premier League players - of which there are many different financial and contractual circumstances from club-to-club - will take a bit more time. 

"The PFA Charity has also agreed to make a substantial contribution to a player-led initiative once the details are finalised.

"There should be no doubting the players and captains are committed to achieving this as soon as possible. They recognise their role in wider society and what they need to do, as a group, to help and support others."

The PFA also claimed the Premier League's decision to advance £125million to EFL and National League clubs and donate £20m to the NHS and other charitable causes was insufficient.

"£20m is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger," said the statement.

"The EFL money is an advance. Importantly, it will aid cashflow in the immediate, but football needs to find a way to increase funding to the EFL and non-league clubs in the long-term.

"Many clubs require an increase in funding just to survive. We believe in our football pyramid and again stress the need for solidarity between all clubs."

The statement added that players want to ensure their financial contributions support clubs, players and staff at all levels of the football pyramid and the NHS, whose workers it called "the real heroes".

Jamie Carragher has blasted Liverpool for their decision to place staff impacted by the Premier League suspension on furlough, suggesting the move loses the club "respect and goodwill".

Members of the workforce that are affected can claim 80 per cent of their wages – up to £2,500 a month – from the United Kingdom government, though Liverpool will top up any shortfall in their pay.

The Reds announced these measures on Saturday, with Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth all previously taking advantage of the government scheme.

Other clubs have been criticised for furloughing non-playing staff, with detractors suggesting clubs owned by wealthy individuals or companies should not be getting assistance from the British taxpayer to cover wage costs.

In Carragher's opinion, Liverpool's decision has seen them lose much of the respect Jurgen Klopp and players had earned the club for their behaviour and attitudes earlier in the crisis, with Jordan Henderson reportedly spearheading an attempt from Premier League players to raise funds for the National Health Service.

Writing on his official Twitter account, Carragher said: "Jurgen Klopp showed compassion for all at the start of this pandemic, senior players heavily involved in Premier League players taking wage cuts.

"Then all that respect and goodwill is lost, poor this @LFC."

The Premier League announced on Friday it will not resume action in early May as had previously been planned.

Chris Wilder has branded criticism of footballers amid the coronavirus pandemic as "distasteful".

The Sheffield United boss feels people have been too quick to target players, with widespread calls for them to take a pay cut.

On Friday the Premier League proposed a 30 per cent wage reduction to its member clubs and Wilder backed players across all levels of the sport to "do the right thing".

"They're conscious people. These boys are from working-class cities, very few of our players are privately educated," he told talkSPORT.

"They've got brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, mums and dads working at the NHS and not getting paid.

"They'll do the right thing through the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association]. Straight away everyone was onto footballers, pointing the finger, and I thought it was very poor and distasteful.

"There is a lot of money floating about, especially at the top, but this football country is not all about the Premier League, it goes right down to the National League and even below.

"Proper football people do the right thing."

Bernie Ecclestone believes the 2020 Formula One season should be abandoned.

The former head of the motor racing series says the coronavirus pandemic is likely to make it too complicated to allow a world championship to go ahead.

Races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Azerbaijan have already been postponed, while the flagship Monaco race has been cancelled, with no prospect of that race being run this year.

The Australian Grand Prix was due to be the opening race but was cancelled hours before first practice, and there has been no action since.

Long-standing former F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who passed control to the Liberty Media group in 2017, fears the sport's current bosses may struggle to piece together a credible championship.

Asked what the sport could do, Ecclestone said: "There's a million different things. I said we should stop the championship this year and start again next year hopefully.

"It's impossible to get the right amount of races in that would count for a championship. It needs to be eight races from memory and I can't see them getting that in.

"Even... let's assume that you could do a deal with the promoters and they'd say, 'Okay, we'll run basically behind closed doors', and come to some sort of financial arrangement with them to do that, you've then got to worry about will all the teams be able to participate.

"They might say, 'Let's see'. So, it's no good somebody putting on a race and spending all the money to put that on and then the teams say, 'Well, we did tell you we couldn't confirm, and we'd have to tell you later'. It's too late then, so it's a difficult situation."

The year began with all the talk centring on whether Lewis Hamilton could win his seventh title, which would move him level with Michael Schumacher's record haul.

Ecclestone says Hamilton would not mind how he wins that seventh title, even if it comes in a severely truncated year of racing.

"I don't think it'd make a lot of difference to Lewis," Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He would win whatever it takes to win that championship, whether it's eight races, 16 or 20. If it's a world championship and he wins it, it goes on the record as he's won a world championship.

"The terrible thing is, he'd win all eight races so it wouldn't be a super championship."

Ecclestone, 89, stressed he does not see himself having another spell in charge of Formula One, because he cannot see Liberty Media's Chase Carey wanting to offload the asset.

"No, I don't think so. I don't think Liberty want to sell so it's no good - a lot of people have said they'd like to buy, or could they buy or should they buy, or whatever.

"I think in the end you'd have to get Liberty to agree. They've never come forward and said to anybody, 'We want to sell', so I'm assuming they don't want to."

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is "very confident" the NRL season will resume on June 1, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The NRL postponed the 2020 campaign through just two rounds on March 23 amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has halted sport across the globe.

On Friday, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said all ideas were on the table, with the league determined to get the competition back underway as soon as it is safe to do so.

Now, V'landys believes the season can restart as early as June, not July in Australia – where there have been more than 5,500 confirmed cases and at least 30 deaths.

"I'm very confident about it [the season resuming on June 1] actually," V'landys told 2GB radio on Saturday. "We've got the best can-do man in Wayne Pearce setting up this committee and he's looking at all options.

"You only have to look at the infection rate. When we stopped playing the infection rate was just on about 23 per cent. Yesterday it was 3.9 per cent and today it's 4.3 per cent.

"You've got to remember that we're eight weeks away and if these figures continue to be that low, there's less risk now than what there was when we were playing [up until March 22]."

Financial concerns have emerged for both clubs and players, prompting the NRL to deliver a 40 million Australian dollars rescue package to all 16 teams.

The NRL and Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) also reached an agreement on a revised pay deal for players on Thursday, ensuring two months' worth of wages and payments.

Due to the postponement of the 2020 season, players will surrender five out of 12 months' salary if the NRL is unable to resume.

But the competition possibly resuming in June would be a big boost for players, with V'landys adding: "What the deal was with the players was in a worst-case scenario that they don't play again this year.

"[But] that's not going to happen. They are going to play football and what we've negotiated is what revenues we get when we recommence we share with the players.

"So, the players certainly will be getting more, not necessarily what their contractual obligations are because there might be less revenue. We've just got to see what revenue we can get and the players will share in that."

Matches, though, will continue to be played behind closed doors without fans when and if the campaign restarts.

"But that's better than not playing at all," V'landys said. "The majority of our revenue comes from broadcasting so if we can broadcast the matches and have some atmosphere somehow, I think that's probably our best option."

FIFA's COVID-19 working group has recommended the postponement of all international matches due to be played in the June window.

The working group, which the world game's governing body recently established to address the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, met for the first time via conference call on Friday.

They made a series of recommendations to the Bureau of the FIFA Council including the postponement of all men's and women's international fixtures for June.

All measures received unanimous agreement from the panel, including setting up "bilateral discussions with confederations concerning 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers" with the aim of finalising "a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments".

"FIFA would like to thank the positive contributions and cooperation of all Confederations' representatives and highlight the spirit of unity, solidarity and mutual understanding which culminated in the adoption of these decisions," read the organisation's statement.

"FIFA also reiterates that health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times."

Friendlies scheduled for June include Spain taking on Portugal, Germany travelling to Switzerland and England hosting Romania.

Copa America and Euro 2020, both due to start later that month, have already been postponed for one year.

The French Football Federation (FFF) will delay any decision over the outcome of its leagues until containment measures in the country have been lifted.

With the coronavirus pandemic having put sport on lockdown across the globe, football in France is on an indefinite hiatus.

The FFF ruled out voiding the campaign, insisting that a season without promotion or relegation would defy "sporting logic".

In a statement released on Friday, the FFF identified several criteria that would factor into its decision over how and when to conclude the 2019-20 season.

"A resumption of competitions would not mean playing all the days that remain to be played to go to the end of the championships," it read.

"It is out of the question to impose an unrealistic pace of recovery, depending on the level of the championships, to make them go to completion.

"Partial completion of the season will be considered.

"The end date of the championships will logically depend on the level of competition."

The FFF confirmed that regional competitions must end by June 30, and added that the €86million budget allocated to amateur football will be maintained.

Premier League clubs have agreed to consult their players about taking 30 per cent pay cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The proliferation of COVID-19 has seen the majority of global sport grind to a halt, with a meeting of Premier League shareholders on Friday acknowledging England's top flight will not get back under way at the start of May.

Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth have placed at least part of their non-playing staff on furlough leave at the United Kingdom government's expense.

Health secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League footballers to "take a pay cut and play their part", with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) attracting criticism for a lack of action in agreeing such measures.

However, clubs will now approach their players about reducing their salaries while football is on hiatus.

A Premier League statement read: "The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for the FA, EFL and National League were considered at today's meeting.

"In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019- 20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.

"This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change. The League will be in regular contact with the PFA and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives."

The Premier League also announced that £125million would be advanced to the EFL and National League due to the "severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time".

All leagues overseen by the EFL and National League have been suspended indefinitely.

An additional £20m has been committed to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the pandemic.

"This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need. This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis," the statement read.

"In response to COVID-19, Premier League clubs have been supporting tens of thousands of people in their communities each and every day through targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a wide range of free resources to support wellbeing and education.

"Many Premier League clubs are also working closely with their local NHS Trusts to provide valuable support through the provision of resources, volunteers and facilities. Now, more than ever, clubs are playing a vital role to support the wellbeing of those in their communities and alleviate pressure on critical health services.

"Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS, the wide reach and appeal of the Premier League and our clubs will continue to be used to promote important public health messaging throughout this crisis.

"The Premier League would like to reiterate that the thoughts of all our clubs are with all those directly affected by COVID-19​."

The Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May and will only return to action once it "is safe and appropriate to do so".

England's top tier was initially suspended until April 3 after Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus.

The hiatus was subsequently extended until at least April 30 due to the spread of COVID-19 and the league has effectively been put on hold indefinitely, though there remains a commitment to fulfil all outstanding fixtures.

A Premier League statement read: "At a meeting of Premier League shareholders today, clubs discussed in detail how to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

"First and foremost, it was reaffirmed that the overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters.

"It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019-20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so. The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.

"The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

"With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition. However, any return to play will only be with the full support of government and when medical guidance allows."

Dates are now available for club football to be played in June and July after Euro 2020 and the Copa America were postponed by a year.

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