News from Sporting Agenda

 

  • Better late than never, but football’s coming home

    “With post-pandemic sport gradually easing back into action, it has generally been a case of completing unfinished business, although much has been either postponed or declared null and void. The new normal precludes fan attendance and includes as much social distancing as is possible amongst players and officials, as well as a number of new safety measures to avoid infections.

    On the pitch, Liverpool have finally and deservedly managed to win their first and very long-awaited Premier League title, and with a few games remaining they are now just record-chasing, whilst the usual scrapping for survival and European places takes place a long way behind them. Meanwhile Arsenal and Manchester United will be hoping to book an FA Cup final slot if they can get past Manchester City and Chelsea respectively, both of whom also still harbour Champions League hopes when it resumes in August.

    It’s going to be a busy period, and it now remains to be seen how cricket and rugby cope with the new crowdlessness and restrictions when they also begin to re-emerge over the coming weeks. After months of archive footage, it’s great to finally see some live sport, even if it is from the safety of our sofas, but it’s a start.”

  • Racing up and running

    “With lockdown coming immediately after a controversially held Cheltenham Festival, this year’s Grand National had to make do with a virtual running. However, with racing among sport’s early re-starters, Royal Ascot was able to take place, albeit rather lacking its traditional style and glamour, but still providing some brilliant on-course performances. Furthermore, the first four of the English classics have now been completed, with long-shot Serpentine winning one of the strangest Derby’s in living memory at an empty Epsom Downs.

    In terms of mechanised horse power, Formula One has made a slightly quieter return than usual, as the sport attempts to complete a schedule much changed from the original calendar. After two races in Austria and another in Hungary, the F1 circus descends upon Silverstone for two consecutive races, with Lewis Hamilton’s sights firmly set on the top of the podium for an historic double in his new black livery.”

  • Sport’s strange new world

    After months of pandemic-induced hibernation, sport has at long last been cautiously emerging into the daylight, but it’s all very different to the pre-Covid days. The new normal consists of spectator-free arenas, once boiling with atmosphere and high tension, but now eerily silent, apart from tannoyed crowd noise and the echoey shouts from players. On the racetrack, horse racing was one of the first to brave the new world, with masked jockeys, trainers and handlers, but no owners or spectators permitted, whilst golf also decided it was safe to go back in the water.

    Another element we are becoming accustomed to is players “taking a knee” before football matches in support of racial equality. With the lockdown meaning football is now being played well into the summer months, drinks breaks and additional substitutions have also been introduced. However, VAR remains as controversially inconsistent as before, whilst goal celebrations are noticeably somewhat less tactile.

    Meanwhile, Formula 1 is set to reappear with the Austrian Grand Prix, followed by a truncated schedule of races, whilst England’s cricketers are gearing up for a bio-secure three match series against the West Indies over the coming weeks, with tennis, rugby and county cricket all set to get going again.

    It is sport, but not as we know it.

  • Lockdown Activities for the Sporting Agenda Team

    With the events world and hospitality at a standstill, we thought you might be interested to know what we have been up to during the lockdown…..

    Ed

    I have continued to work through the Pandemic – in normal years we would be flat out with bookings and deliveries at this time of the year but this year we have had to deal with refunds and moving bookings to 2021 which was very busy at first but has now quietened down. More recently, the day has revolved around the stresses of home schooling, a lot of gardening and tennis. I haven’t been tested for the virus but my father and his partner have both had it back in March (Dad, who is 79, was very ill for a short while) and my brother and his wife have both had it. My brother found out he had it when he signed up as guinea pig for the vaccine trial in Oxford where his wife teaches. Neither he nor his wife had any discernible symptoms.

    Sue

    This has certainly been a very different summer for us at Sporting Agenda and for me personally. Ed and I have been busy re-booking clients for next year where possible or making refunds if not.  In the last few days however, we have been glimpsing a chink of light at the end of the tunnel and sold some new packages for Wimbledon 2021.

    Away from Sporting Agenda, my husband and I own our village pub which has been sadly closed since March.  However, we are just undertaking a major refurb before hopefully opening at the end of July.

    Personally, I would normally be clocking up numerous miles taking our four children to their various cricket matches and social engagements, however this year we have battled with online schooling and stopping them killing each other!  Feeding, laundry and cleaning for four teenagers and a husband is also a full-time job!! As a Parish Councillor I have been helping deliver prescriptions and food to vulnerable parishioners who have been unable to get out and about.

     

    Tanya

    At this time of the year I would normally be preparing for the Wimbledon championship, yet during these unprecedented times, whilst being furloughed, I have had the chance to spend precious time with my family, horse and dogs. My days have been preoccupied with the continuous struggle of home schooling, enjoying the weather in the garden and improving on my golf swing thanks to a lockdown purchase of an outdoor practice golf net.

     

    Karen

    I’ve been furloughed in lockdown for 3 months now – what a very strange time it’s been for all of us but at the start of all this I made a pact to try to do something constructive each day. I started with re-training our syndicate ex-racehorse who had been in training to run this season. I then turned my attention to a building project we started at home just a couple of weeks before lockdown.  I’d like to think I’ve been of some help to the builder, but he probably thinks differently!!  However, together we have built a new terrace and re-designed the garden…

    We live in the beautiful village of East Garston, barely a mile away from the Sporting Agenda offices.  This is a close community and we have a few Septuagenarians and Octogenarians who have needed help with their shopping.  Whilst this really hasn’t been a problem, they’re a pretty lively bunch who not only like to chat (a lot) but a couple of them think nothing of whizzing up a cocktail or opening a bottle when I deliver the shopping, even though it’s only 10am!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thinking ahead, I’m looking forward to life getting back to something like normal which I don’t think is too far away now.  I’m also looking forward to starting the re-training of my horse in August and I hope he’s got a good memory!  I feel very fortunate to live where I do; I’ve had more freedom than most during these times and I consider myself lucky.

     

    Anne Marie

    It was a scary time initially and I found the best way to cope was to only read the news once a day. I have been lucky that neither myself nor my family or friends have been ill with Covid, and life did not change radically as it did for some. I live in the countryside and could still ride and look after my horses. Being able to get fresh air and exercise was crucial to not going stir crazy with everything else on lockdown. My brother had a child in Denmark in early March, and I have not yet been able to travel to Denmark to see him. I am hoping the UK government will agree on air bridges to the EU so I won’t have to quarantine for 2 weeks upon arrival back in the UK, as is currently the rule.

    Wimbledon being cancelled was undoubtedly the right decision, but such a disappointment for our many clients for whom this is a once in a lifetime event. Most clients have carried over their bookings to 2021 and have been very understanding of the difficulties Covid brought. I am now looking forward to helping more clients achieve their dream of attending Wimbledon in 2021 once we all get used to the new normal way of life.

     

    Harriet James

    I’ve been loving lock down! Apart from the home schooling, it’s been great. I do miss singing with my band and performing but I’m sure it’ll all get back to normal one day. I think we’re very lucky to live in the countryside, going for walks and bike rides with my family, as I’m not sure how I’d feel if I lived in a flat in London.

    It was a huge shame that Wimbledon was called off but I look forward to helping Ed, Sue and the team next year.

  • • Full steam ahead for Cheltenham Festival

    With the entire planet seemingly in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak, and sports events under particular threat of cancellation, it is with relief that the Cheltenham Festival is still scheduled to press ahead as normal this week. With 200,000 people due to attend over the four days, additional measures are in place to try to prevent or minimise further spread of the disease. With Cheltenham being the highlight of many people’s sporting, let alone racing, calendar, it would have been emotionally and financially devastating to the racing fraternity to cancel, as happened with the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. On the course, where further equine welfare measures have been introduced, the quality will be there for all to see, despite the disappointment of Altior being ruled out. With the likes of Epatante in the Champion Hurdle, Paisley Park in the Stayers Hurdle and Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup, not to mention Grand National hero Tiger Roll seeking his fifth festival win, as well as several good rides for Rachael Blackmore, Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly, there’s so much to look forward to. For once the weather seems to be the least of our worries, so let’s hope the virus stays away.

  • Relentless reds march on

    ​With Liverpool seemingly running away with the Premier League, having opened up an apparently insurmountable lead over their nearest challengers, the top clubs are mostly enjoying a well-earned mid-season break. When they return from whichever sunny climes they escaped to, it will be to face the final stretch of the season, with games coming thick and fast. With the return of European fixtures, and the FA Cup starting to look interesting, there will be plenty of distractions for the top sides, although Liverpool may even have wrapped up the Premier League by the end of March, if things continue the way they are. Having returned from Qatar as world club champions, whilst fielding teenagers in recent domestic cup competitions, they clearly have their eyes on the bigger prizes, their pursuit of which remains relentless and seemingly unstoppable.

  • British girls aim for Fed Cup finals

    The new look Fed Cup makes its return this weekend, with Great Britain paying a visit to Bratislava to take on Slovakia on the clay in their World Group play-off. Like the Davis Cup, the competition has been given a facelift, with the winners this weekend going through to the 12-strong finals, held in Budapest in April. After some mixed results at the recent Australian Open, there will need to be a marked improvement from the British girls, especially in the absence of world number 14 Johanna Konta and British number 2 Katie Boulter, but there is every reason to expect Harriet Dart and Katie Swan to build on previous performances, whilst debutants Naiktha Bains and Emma Raducanu will no doubt step up to the plate. Add to that the experience of Heather Watson and the team will believe that that finals place is theirs for the taking.