Home Agenda SPORTS AGENDA: Discussions will take place on whether Covid spot checks will continue

SPORTS AGENDA: Discussions will take place on whether Covid spot checks will continue

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It is not yet known whether the end of Plan B will bring down the curtain on Covid spot checks on Premier League football grounds.

There were widely varying levels of adherence to spot checks. Agenda was told of grounds where fans were not once asked to show any form of Covid passport.

At others, including Old Trafford, fans who were unable to connect to the internet to access their contact details were refused entry.

It is not yet clear whether the end of Plan B will bring down the curtain on Covid spot checks

At Newcastle, one fan described testing as “non-existent”, although the club insists they have done more than most in the top flight.

Discussions will take place between clubs and the League ahead of the next round of fixtures, when a decision on continued testing is likely to be made.

GARETH READY FOR SNOOZE-FEST AT QATAR DRAW

Gareth Southgate might need a strong coffee or three in the upcoming World Cup draw.

The event is notoriously drawn-out and the England manager’s ability to stay awake won’t be helped by the fact that he will likely have to travel straight from a friendly against Ivory Coast at Wembley on March 29 to Qatar for the FIFA Congress on March 31, draw the following day.

Gareth Southgate has a busy March with game against Ivory Coast and World Cup draw

Gareth Southgate has a busy March with game against Ivory Coast and World Cup draw

LAST WEEK FOR WOODWARD

Ed Woodward will finally bring down the curtain on his week-long reign of Old Trafford on Tuesday.

It’s understood he doesn’t want a fuss and wants to “slip away quietly”.

Manchester United are expected to mark the executive’s departure privately with some form of presentation.

In a similar vein, sacked Everton manager Rafa Benitez recently took his side for a farewell lunch on the Wirral.

Ed Woodward's departure will be marked by a form of private presentation

Ed Woodward’s departure will be marked by a form of private presentation

KIT PACK BEIJING

Athletes and staff representing Team GB in China received a kit including a water bottle, three pairs of gloves, branch lines, long johns and hand warmers to help them stay warm in freezing weather.

Beijing was -1°C this weekend, with the Zhangjiakou mountain range at -6°C.

ATHLETES ARE ADVISED TO LEAVE PERSONAL DEVICES AT HOME

Those heading to Beijing have picked up new laptops, tablets and cellphones.

Thousands of accredited international guests, including athletes, have been advised by their governments and security experts to leave all personal devices at home for fear of exposing themselves to Chinese digital espionage.

Indeed, concerns over the mandatory health app for the Beijing Games have led to an increase in guests buying new ‘burn-in’ devices for the duration of their stay.

Athletes have been asked by their governments to leave their personal devices at home

Athletes have been asked by their governments to leave their personal devices at home

DEJA VU WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES

An alarming sense of deja vu ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. When the Summer Games were held in Beijing in 2008, Russia was in the midst of a major armed conflict with a country neighboring Georgia in the disputed region of South Ossetia. Russia had to defend its actions at the opening ceremony of Beijing 2008.

More than a decade later, with more than 100,000 Russian troops massed on the border with Ukraine, many wonder if Olympic history is about to repeat itself, even if this time Russians will be under a flag neutral.

DEVELOPMENT PERMISSION FOR THE UNITED STATES CRICKET GROUND

Unhappy English cricketers may soon find a new country to embarrass themselves in.

Planning permission is sought to build an international standard cricket complex in San Jose, California.

The move is being overseen by Major League Cricket, which was founded in 2019 and hopes to start in 2023 with the aim of creating a US national team.

If given the go-ahead, the £37m proposal would accommodate up to 15,000 fans and follow a new stadium in Dallas, which is expected to be broken up in the coming weeks. Paraag Marathe, chairman of USA Cricket, described the plans as “adding to the fantastic momentum for the growth of cricket nationwide”.

Marathe is also Chairman of Business for the San Francisco 49ers and, in this capacity, Vice Chairman of Partners Leeds United.

SHEARER SIGNS £5.8M DEAL

He may have hung up his boots 16 years ago, but Alan Shearer remains a savvy operator. The Newcastle legend has sold his home in chic Darras Hall, Northumberland, for almost double what he paid.

Shearer shelled out around £3m for the six-bedroom new build in 2004 but has now sold it for £5.8m. The luxury pad includes a media centre, swimming pool and bar, and the new owners have already asked to build front and rear extensions and a new roof with floodlights.

Locals expect the Newcastle takeover to trigger a spike in property prices.

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has sold his home in Darras Hall, Northumberland for £5.8million

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has sold his home in Darras Hall, Northumberland for £5.8million

A POSITIVE AT EVERTON

It’s safe to say that appointment booking hasn’t been Everton’s forte of late, but the club have at least taken a step in a positive direction on the media front.

Journalist David Prentice, who has written about the Toffees for over 35 years, will arrive next month as communications manager.

Prentice, a well-known figure in the city and beyond thanks to his time with the Echo of Liverpool, may well have his work cut out for him in his new role.

ARSENAL GOOD TIMES

Sensational timing from Arsenal earlier this month. On Friday January 14 at 3pm, the Gunners released quotes from manager Mikel Arteta in which he said the “intention is always to play”.

At 4:30 p.m., the Premier League announced that the club had requested the postponement of the North London derby.

HULL LOOKING AT THE GENERAL MANAGER

Fresh out of its Turkish takeover, Hull City are considering making Jim Rodwell their chief executive.

Rodwell held the same position at Sunderland and served on the EFL and FA board. He worked for Peterborough on an acting basis.

Hull owner Acun Ilicali (pictured) could be followed at the club by Jim Rodwell as the club seek to become his chief executive

Hull owner Acun Ilicali (pictured) could be followed at the club by Jim Rodwell as the club seek to become his chief executive

REINFORCING THE NEW MANAGER

The practice of getting close to the boss doesn’t seem to be lost on a Premier League player, who has gone to great lengths to try and get into his new manager’s good books.

Our man found out which hotel the new boss was staying at and quickly booked a room there in order to ‘meet’ him and probably tell him what a great guy he was.

His teammates, who discovered the tactic, were unimpressed.

TEAM GB STAFF ARRIVE WITHOUT NEEDING TO QUARANTINE

The first batch of Team GB employees arrived in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics, with no one needing to quarantine following their trip to the country.

This will come as a big relief to bosses given the mounting tension due to Covid and China’s strict approach, with their international borders virtually closed to all but those working at the Games.

Britain will host 50 athletes, up from 56 who traveled to Pyeongchang in South Korea four years ago.