REVEALED: Football fans to be asked if they want crowd noise in games

REVEALED: Football fans to be asked whether they want crowd noise to accompany the broadcast of Premier League matches with officials desperate to keep fans glued to screens when the season resumes

  • Football fans will be asked whether they want crowd noise during matches
  • All top-flight games will be broadcast on TV but will take place without fans 
  • The Premier League are desperate to keep the viewing experience entertaining 
  • The sound of supporters cheering and booing is one of the possible options   

Football fans will be canvassed about whether they want crowd noise to accompany matches when the Premier League returns next month.

The viewing experience was one of the matters discussed at Wednesday’s Premier League meeting, when shareholders voted to allow players to resume full contact training ahead of the action starting again on June 17.

Yet Sportsmail understands that fans will be asked for their opinions on how the games should be presented, given they will all be behind closed doors.

Football fans will be canvassed about whether they want crowd noise to accompany matches

Viewing experience was one of the issues discussed at Wednesday’s Premier League meeting

The Football Supporters Association, the national representative body for fans in England and Wales, is expected to discuss possible ideas within the next 48 hours with Supporters’ Trusts and official supporters’ clubs, and report back to the Premier League.

The governing body’s priority is to ensure fans can be represented during matches even though they cannot be physically present.

With fans unlikely to be allowed back into crowds for a significant period – perhaps well into next season – Premier League bosses are desperate to ensure the game can still attract and retain supporters against a TV backdrop of empty seats.

Bosses are desperate for the game to retain supporters against a TV backdrop of empty seats

One of the options discussed has been to make the sound of fans cheering and booing available to viewers, while another has been to enhance the pitch-side microphones for a greater flavour of what players and coaches are saying to each other – although the use of bad language is a clear stumbling block in this case.

Danish club Aarhus are also attempting to build a ‘virtual grandstand’ at their Ceres Park ground, which would allow fans watching on television at home to appear in the ground via digital platform Zoom.

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said: ‘We have been regularly briefed and informally consulted throughout the decision-making process, and we are expecting to gauge the views of our members on these matters.’

Danish club Aarhus are attempting to build a ‘virtual grandstand’ at their Ceres Park ground




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Nathan Jones to be reappointed as Luton Town manager

Nathan Jones to be reappointed as Luton Town manager just 18 months after leaving the Championship club for Stoke City

  • Luton Town parted company with manager Graeme Jones last month
  • The Championship side have now turned back to ex-Stoke boss Nathan Jones
  • Nathan Jones had three successful years at Kenilworth Road before departing
  • Luton are currently second bottom of the Championship, six points from safety

Nathan Jones is set to seal a return to Luton and be reappointed as the Championship side’s new manager on Thursday.

The Hatters are poised to turn back to their old boss, who is also 47 on Thursday, having been without a permanent manager since his namesake Graeme Jones left in April.

Nathan Jones was prised away from Kenilworth Road by Stoke in January 2019, departing after three successful years. He left Stoke last November and Graeme Jones’ exit has paved the way for his return.

Nathan Jones is set to seal a return to Luton and be reappointed as the club’s new manager

Jones is heading back to Luton with Championship clubs preparing for football’s resumption after being suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Luton are currently second bottom, six points from safety with nine games to go.

Graeme Jones, Roberto Martinez’s former No.2, left by mutual consent at the end of April as the financial strain began to tell on clubs with the season having been stopped in mid-March.

Graeme Jones left Luton by mutual consent in April as the financial strain began to tell on clubs

Club legend Mick Harford stepped in once again as interim boss as Luton chose to wait until the situation regarding football’s return became clearer before pressing ahead with their plans to bring back Jones.

Jones will be well-remembered at Luton having led them from League Two to well on their way to the Championship in his first spell.

Nathan Jones left Luton originally to take over at Stoke, where he was sacked in November 

He steered them away from League Two trouble following his appointment, to the League Two play-off semi-finals in his first full season and then automatic promotion as League Two runners up in the next campaign.

Luton were second in League One and on a 13-game unbeaten run when he was tempted away by Stoke, with Harford finishing the job Jones started by guiding the Hatters into the Championship.

Welshman Jones, a former Luton player and Brighton coach, also earned a reputation for playing entertaining and free-scoring football with his side scoring 301 times in his 170 games.




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Gotze should be centre-stage as the world watches Dortmund v Munich

Mario Gotze should be centre-stage with the spotlight on Dortmund v Bayern tonight… instead, Germany’s once-in-a-generation talent faces a sorry exit after problems with his health, weight and bosses

  • Mario Gotze is 27 and coming into his peak, yet his career is at a crossroads
  • He will leave Borussia Dortmund for a second time at the end of the season
  • At Dortmund, he is on the sidelines due to players such as Jadon Sancho 

In another world, a parallel timeline, Borussia Dortmund’s title-race clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening would not be about Jadon Sancho, or Erling Braut Haaland, or Alphonso Davies. It would be about Mario Gotze.

On Tuesday, the whole world will tune in to a fixture which has defined German football for the last decade. Ten years ago, it would have been a safe bet that Bavarian-born and Dortmund-raised wunderkind Gotze was going to be that fixture’s defining player. 

At 27, he would now be approaching his peak, ready once again to play a starring role in the so-called ‘Klassiker’.

Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Gotze is just 27 years old but his career is at a crossroads 

Gotze should be centre stage but instead, it belongs to Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland

Gotze will be watching on as a substitute when Dortmund meet his old side Bayern Munich

Instead, Gotze will spend Tuesday evening on the bench, mulling what might have been. His World-Cup winning strike in 2014 was recently voted ‘Goal of the Decade’ in Germany, but it is now six years now since his majestic moment in the Maracana. And they have been six long years indeed, full of injuries, illnesses, and countless false dawns.

On Saturday, Dortmund confirmed that Gotze would be leaving at the end of the season. ‘Mario is a really good guy…the decision was also made with him in mind,’ said sporting director Michael Zorc. ‘He is going to look for a new challenge, perhaps abroad.’

A new challenge, and a liberation from the heavy burden of Bayern and Dortmund, is arguably what Gotze has needed for a long time. One way or another, his affinity to these two clubs has always dragged him down, the rampant success of both teams – and the rivalry itself – laying an ever colder light on his own underachievement.

A Bayern fan as a boy, Gotze joined Dortmund at the age of eight and later established himself as a once-in-a-generation talent. His sparkling international debut against Brazil and explosive role in Jurgen Klopp’s double-winning Dortmund side made him the posterboy of a new dawn for German football, which had become a swashbuckling, rock’n’roll alternative to Europe’s bigger leagues.

Gotze is a once-in-a-generation talent but in recent years, has struggled to maintain sharpness

It was former Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp who got the best from Gotze at club level

At Bayern, he struggled to make a strong impact under the guidance of Pep Guardiola 

When that period reached its peak with Bayern and Dortmund’s meeting in the 2013 Champions League Final, things were already turning sour for Gotze. Injured and about to move to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, he watched from the stands as his new team won and his former fans decried him as Judas.

Working under Guardiola is something which can make or break a career, and for Gotze it appeared to be the latter. Plagued by injuries and unappreciated by the Catalan coach, he made less than 60 league starts in three years in Munich, before a shock return to Dortmund in 2016.

Yet somehow, the old magic had gone. A few months later, it emerged that Gotze had long been struggling with a metabolic disorder which played havoc with his fitness and his weight. 

Over the next few years, he would be in and out of the Dortmund side, but never out of the headlines. Especially in light of his World Cup heroism, Gotze’s slow-motion decline has been a gruesome spectacle from which the nation has been unable to tear its eyes.

In his first ever pre-match interview as Dortmund coach, current boss Lucien Favre was asked whether he would find a role for Gotze. In the two years since, he has never stopped having to answer the same question. 

On the international stage, Gotze won the World Cup with Germany, scoring in the 2014 final

Fast forward to 2020 and Gotze has made just five starts for the Dortmund side this season

He will leave the club at the end of the 2019-20 campaign and possibly move abroad

That is partly what moved the club to announce his departure last weekend. Dortmund wanted no distractions before the derby, and Gotze has long been the greatest distraction of them all.

In truth, he had been on his way out for a while. He has made just five starts this season, and his social media antics have reportedly irritated club bosses. 

Alongside model wife Ann-Kathrin, the 27-year-old has refashioned himself as one half of an influencer power-couple in recent years. Last week, just days before Dortmund announced his departure, the two took on a TikTok challenge which involved him wearing a leopard-print dress.

‘Gotze can earn millions on social media without sweating every day in training,’ remarked Bild rather meanly on Monday. Yet in general, the 2014 World-Cup hero is still looked upon fondly in Germany. Most are desperate to see him find some kind of peace, even if it is outside the country.

‘He would be well advised to continue his career abroad. That’s the only way he can break the vicious circle which has seen him go from one setback to the next since 2014,’ wrote Bild. In a recent poll in Kicker magazine, only 18 percent of respondents said they thought Gotze should stay in Germany.

Where he should go is another matter. A move to England would arguably only bring the same problems he has at Dortmund. No longer the explosive player he once was, Gotze is ill-suited to the era of Haalands, Sanchos, Salahs and Sterlings. As Bild put it: ‘Football has moved on, he has stayed still’.

His social media antics – such as posing in a dress with his ‘influencer’ girlfriend – have left some of the Dortmund hierarchy unimpressed

Dortmund manager Lucian Favre has been repeatedly asked about Gotze since joining the club

Yet that is not entirely true. For a few months under Favre, it looked as if Gotze might be about to reinvent himself as a more cerebral number eight: less agile, perhaps, but no less quick-witted and creative. Some in Germany believe he may still have a future at a major European club.

‘When space is tight and it’s about short, quick passing, Gotze is still one of the best in German football,’ wrote Der Spiegel magazine. ‘In that regard, Barcelona could probably find a space for him without too much trouble.’

That may be a slight exaggeration. But there are other teams, whose game is less bombastic and more possession-based, where Gotze could yet find a home.

Yet that is not Dortmund, and it is not Bayern. On Tuesday, the world will watch those two teams battle it out for Bundesliga supremacy once again. Gotze, the decade’s supreme tragic hero, will also once again be a mere spectator.




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Havertz refuses to be drawn on Barca, Liverpool and Man United links

‘I don’t want to mess it up in any way’: Kai Havertz refuses to be drawn on links with Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United after scoring another brace for Bayer Leverkusen

  • Bayer Leverkusen wonderkid Kai Havertz refused to talk on transfer links
  • The midfielder scored a second brace in two games as he continues to impress
  • Barcelona, Liverpool and Man United are all interested in €100m midfielder 

Bayer Leverkusen wonderkid Kai Havertz refused to talk about his future at the club after scoring another brace in the Bundesliga in a 3-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach. 

Havertz has become hot property across Europe with Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United all showing interest in the creative midfielder. 

Leverkusen have been clear that they are not going to accept any offer less than €100million for the 20-year-old as he has continued his incredible season as the Bundesliga returned to action. 

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz refused to address links with transfer away

Havertz scored his second brace in two games as he continues to impress in Bundesliga

When questioned on his future in Germany and his links to the European giants, Havertz told Sky: ‘I do not like to say, of course, that there is a lot of speculation.

‘I’m concentrating on this season and will see what happens afterwards.

‘I am very grateful to Leverkusen and I don’t want to mess it up in any way.’

The German international scored his second brace in two games as Leverkusen hit the ground running in their comeback after the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of the Bundesliga. 

Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United are all interested in €100million-rated midfielder

The club climbed to third place in the table, but could potentially drop down to fourth after RB Leipzig’s match-up with Mainz on Sunday. 

Havertz said that Leverkusen deserved the win against fellow Champions League contenders Monchengladbach. 

He added: ‘We’re happy about the win. We put it on ourselves to win here and we did that.

‘We had to really give everything today and I think we deserved to win in the end.’




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Serie A return date to be decided on May 28

Serie A return date to be decided on May 28, confirms Italian Sports Minister as he admits a play-off could be possible 

  • Serie A has been on hold for over two months due to the coronavirus crisis 
  • The Italian government has banned all sporting events until at least June 15
  • Vincenzo Spadafora says a date for Serie A’s return will be confirmed this month
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora says that a decision will be made on Serie A’s return on May 28.  

It was announced last week that clubs in Italy are allowed to return to team training this week – but matches remain some way off following a government decree banning sporting events until June 15.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed off a motion on Sunday banning ‘any event and sporting competition of any order and discipline’ until June 14. 

Vincenzo Spadafora says that a decision will be made on Serie A’s return on May 28

Speaking on Tuesday, Spadafora said: ‘On May 28 we’ll decide a safe date for Serie A to resume.

‘If the season returns, it has to be ended. All solutions are possible, including a play-off.’   

There are hopes that a return to small group training can pave the way for Serie A’s resumption.

Group sessions were initially scheduled for May 18, but negotiations to alter the protocol set out by the government meant they were delayed until Tuesday.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was delighted to be back at Juventus training on Tuesday

‘The protocol has been approved for the resumption of training for football clubs,’ the minister added. It’s excellent news – group training can resume.’

Spadafora also spoke about his reluctancy to end the season prematurely like some other European countries have done. 

‘Doing what France did and abandoning everything would have been easier,’ he said.

‘But I didn’t want to do that, just as I didn’t want to give specific dates without enough information. Now that we can, it’s right to do so.’

Juventus and the other 19 Serie A clubs are now able to have their players train in small groups 


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Irish racing back on June 8 behind closed doors

Racing is set to resume under strict protocols and behind closed doors in Ireland on June 8.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said last week that racing, as a spectator-free sport, would fall into the third phase of the Irish Government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions, meaning a June 29 restart looked likely.

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Bundesliga sides will be allowed up to five substitutions per match

Bundesliga sides will be allowed up to FIVE substitutions per match when season resumes on Saturday – and teams WILL be relegated if the season is completed

  • Bundesliga will be the first major European league to resume this weekend
  • Short-term venue changes will also be permitted if health reasons dictate
  • The season can continue beyond its re-scheduled finish date and into July
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Bundesliga teams will be allowed up to five substitutions per match when it restarts on Saturday after the coronavirus stoppage, while teams will be relegated provided the season is completed.

Short-term venue changes will also be permitted if health reasons dictate such a need and the season will continue beyond its re-scheduled finish date of June 30 and into July if necessary, the German Football League (DFL) said on Thursday.

The Bundesliga will be the first major European league to resume when it gets going following a two-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second tier 2. Bundesliga will also get under way.

Bayern Munich players train on Thursday ahead of their return to action this weekend

All matches will be played behind closed doors, and progress will be closely watched around Europe.

Doubts have already surfaced after second tier Dynamo Dresden’s entire squad were quarantined by the local health authority following two positive tests, forcing their first two games to be postponed.

However, when three players at Cologne tested positive, only the players affected were isolated. Under German law, the final decision in such cases lies with local health authorities.

Soccer’s rule-making body IFAB ruled earlier this month that teams could make five substitutions instead of the usual three as a temporary measure but said the final decision lay with competition organisers.

Schalke face local rivals Borussia Dortmund as the Bundesliga returns after two-month break

The DFL became the first major league to implement the change which is designed to help teams cope with fixture congestion as they rush to complete the season.

The DFL said that all but one of its 36 member clubs voted in favour of maintaining relegation.

‘(The assembly) unanimously confirmed, with one abstention, the intention to carry out the current 2019/20 season in its entirety, including relegation, as far as legally possible and, if necessary, to continue beyond 30 June in July,’ it said.

No decision was taken on what would happen if the season had to be called off for health reasons.

Second tier Dynamo Dresden’s entire squad were quarantined following two positive tests

‘In the event that… the season has to be abandoned prematurely, a regulation regarding the sporting classification is to be developed within the following two weeks,’ it said.

Venues could be changed should a local outbreak make it inadvisable to stage a match. 

‘There will be the possibility of a match being played in another stadium at short notice for overriding compelling legal, organisational and/or security reasons,’ the DFL said. 

Bayern Munich, chasing an eighth successive title, currently lead the table with 55 points from 25 games, four ahead of Borussia Dortmund with RB Leipzig third on 50. There are nine rounds of matches to play. 

At the bottom, Werder Bremen and Paderborn are in the drop zone with Fortuna Duesseldorf in 16th, which is the relegation/promotion playoff spot. 




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Derby and Oaks to be held behind closed doors at Epsom

Derby and Oaks to be held behind closed doors at Epsom in July or August after local council past Jockey Club proposals

  • Jockey Club wants to stage the Derby and Oaks on a one-day seven race card
  • Local council supported the proposal to stage the races behind closed doors
  • But the fixture does remain subject to BHA and Government approval

An application to run the Investec Derby and Oaks on a Saturday in July or August was on Tuesday night unanimously approved by the Conservators of Epsom and Walton Downs.

The Conservators also approved an application to erect fencing around the entire racecourse and grandstand complex – an area of 150 Hectares – to ensure the race can be safely run behind closed doors.

These fences would be covered to restrict viewing, reducing the likelihood of crowds would gather to watch from a distance.

The Jockey Club wants to stage the Derby and Oaks on a one-day seven race card on July 4

The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom, has said July 4 is their preferred date to stage the Derby at its historic home.

The application was presented to the Conservators by Simon Durrant, General Manager of Epsom Racecourse. He said it would take three days to erect the fencing but that residents and the local training community would have access to the Downs while the fencing was being erected.

Delia Bushell, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said: ‘We are working hard on a practical and deliverable plan to stage the 2020 Investec Derby and Oaks at their traditional home, without a crowd and once racing is approved to resume by government.

‘I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the Epsom and Walton Downs Conservators for their backing.’

The Derby should have been run on June 6.




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MLB Draft will be five rounds in 2020, reports say

Major League Baseball and its players have agreed to limit this year’s amateur draft to five rounds, down from the usual 40 rounds, ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel reported Friday.

Baseball wanted to shorten the draft for financial reasons. It is trying to preserve cash after losing millions in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. Signing fewer players will help.

Passan and McDaniel reported that the sides settled on five rounds after the MLB Players Association rejected a proposal for a 10-round draft, but it appears both sides had reservations about going 10 rounds.

Passan reported on Twitter that a majority of clubs wanted 10 but received “strong” pushback from the teams that were opposed. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that player agents pushed their clients to turn down the proposal because no minimum signing bonus amount was set for players selected in Rounds 6-10.

Now, players who are not selected in this year’s five-round draft will be able to sign as free agents for a maximum of $20,000. Teams can sign as many of those players as they want, Sherman reported.

Sherman reported the draft will begin as scheduled on June 10 and conclude June 11. The draft was to be held June 10-12 in Omaha, Neb., to coincide with the start of the College World Series, but the NCAA canceled the tournament in March as fears about the pandemic grew in the U.S.

Friday’s reports tracked with similar information tweeted Thursday by Ernest Dove, who reports on Minor League Baseball.

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