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Ajax coaches told to self-isolate over coronavirus fears

Ajax coaches told to self-isolate over coronavirus fears
The Scottish football season is under threat following an outbreak of the Covid-19 strain.

Ajax assistant coach Christian Poulsen and two other members of the Dutch club's coaching staff have been told to stay at home due to concerns over coronavirus.

Poulsen, exercise physiologist Alessandro Schoenmaker and an unnamed physiotherapist are in isolation after attending a birthday party on Friday with someone who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Club spokesperson Miel Brinkhuis told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: "It is true that there are three preventative employees at home. The trio have no complaints."

Christian Poulsen, right, made 12 appearances for Liverpool during the 2010/11 season
Christian Poulsen, right, made 12 appearances for Liverpool during the 2010-11 season (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Former Denmark and Liverpool midfielder Poulsen and both colleagues are being monitored, but have not shown signs of having coronavirus.

Brinkhuis added: "And if it stays that way until Thursday, the employees can resume their work at the club."

Ajax are currently top of the Eredivisie table, ahead of AZ Alkmaar on goal difference, and are scheduled to play at Heerenveen on Saturday.

On Thursday, the Scottish Professional Football League's chief executive Neil Doncaster said just one club being hit by the coronavirus outbreak would make the Scottish football season "very difficult" to complete.

Doncaster's statement followed the announcement that England's final Guinness Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on March 14 was the latest sporting event to be postponed due to the spread of Covid-19.

Following discussions with the Scottish Government, Scottish football's Joint Response Group updated its members on the latest situation just hours before the first death in the United Kingdom of a patient diagnosed with the illness was confirmed.

Doncaster said: "We are taking a pragmatic approach to the current situation and have alerted our members to the fact that, if the outbreak affects the first team of even one SPFL club, it could make completing the SPFL season very difficult, so first-team players and staff should be extremely vigilant.

"Whilst the current, clear advice is that matches should proceed as scheduled, we will obviously prepare for contingencies where matches might have to be played behind closed doors, or even be cancelled, as we have already seen with other major sporting events.

Liverpool have taken steps to protect club staff members on match days
Liverpool have taken steps to protect fans and club staff members on match days (Peter Byrne/PA)

"With that in mind, we have alerted the Scottish Government to the dire financial consequences facing clubs if the current situation changes and clubs are unable to generate revenue from ticket sales."

Premier League leaders Liverpool have announced a raft of measures, including a decision not to use on-pitch mascots at games, aimed at protecting staff and spectators.

In addition, the Premier League has abandoned its traditional fair play handshake before matches until further notice on medical advice.

A statement said: "The Premier League fair play handshake will not take place between players and match officials from this weekend until further notice based on medical advice."

HEALTH Coronavirus
Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

The English Football League has said it will stay in close contact with the Government regarding the ongoing concerns posed by coronavirus.

However, Scotland's chief medical officer has insisted scientific evidence suggests mass gatherings, particularly those held outdoors, are unlikely to result in the virus being passed on.

Speaking at Murrayfield ahead of Scotland's Six Nations clash with France, Dr Catherine Calderwood said: "I've looked at the scientific evidence very carefully, and what's emerging is that there's actually very little impact on virus spread from mass gatherings, particularly if they are in the open air. This is not a risk to the Scottish population in hosting this match."

England's match against Italy in Rome could have been played behind closed doors, but tournament organisers chose instead to reschedule the fixture for later in the year, which will also be the case for the Ireland-Italy game due to be played this weekend.

FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation will provide an update on qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup in the coming days following consultation with the AFC member associations.

The Rugby Football League has advised clubs "there is presently no rationale to close or cancel sporting events in this country – although clearly this may change as the situation evolves".

Golf continues to be badly affected by the spread of the virus, with the MENA Tour pushing the rest of this season's tournaments back until September-December, while the Asian Tour's Royal's Cup 2020 scheduled for March 12-15 in Thailand has been postponed indefinitely.

In cycling, the CCC and Astana Pro teams have followed Team Ineos and Mitchelton-Scott in withdrawing from races due to coronavirus.

Organisers of the Paris Marathon have announced the race, due to be held on April 5, has been postponed and rescheduled for October 18.

Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) said in a statement: "In order to avoid a late cancellation that would penalise the participants, we have, in agreement with the Paris mayor's office, decided to postpone the Paris marathon to Oct. 18."

The Rome Marathon, due to take place on March 29, has been cancelled altogether, race organisers have confirmed.

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