England manager Gareth Southgate urges fans to unite

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - England manager Gareth Southgate has asked fans to work together in their fight against coronavirus.

The Three Lions were due to play Italy next Friday and Denmark four days later before the suspension of sporting action brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to supporters, Southgate wrote: "For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present – and the coming months – is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we've faced collectively in decades.

"On behalf of all the team and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period.

"In the way you've all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.

"That responsibility lies with us all."

Southgate added: "We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It's not normal for any of us and it's going to challenge us all.


Premier League winners and losers

WINNERS: Liverpool – 25 points clear and therefore potentially one match away from mathematically being crowned champions, the Anfield club will almost certainly go on to lift their first top-flight title in 30 years. PA

Leicester City – The 2015/16 champions have enjoyed a fantastic season with Brendan Rodgers and sit snuggly in third, eight points clear of fifth - a second appearance in the Champions League should be theirs. AFP

Manchester United – An incredible turnaround in the past few weeks – they are unbeaten in five league matches, 10 in all competitions – has carried United to fifth and within three points of the Champions League spots. Reuters

Wolves – Although not regular contenders for the top four, Nuno Espirito Santo’s well-drilled side hold Champions League ambitions. They sit sixth, five points off Chelsea in fourth. Very capable of making a charge. EPA

Sheffield United – Similar to Wolves, although the Sheffield club can claim to be having an even better season. Win their game in hand and the newly promoted side leapfrog Man United into fifth. Champions League football at Bramall Lane? PA

Tottenham Hotspur – With their season in serious drift and injuries taking their toll, Jose Mourinho has been handed a reprieve. Spurs are eighth and seven points off top four. The return of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min would give real boost. AFP

Bournemouth – Just about remaining in the fight for survival, Eddie Howe’s men will be looking at Brighton in 15th, only two points above. However, stuck in 18th, they still have to face Man United, Spurs and Man City. Reuters

Aston Villa – The League Cup runners-up should be galvanised by their valiant display in defeat to City. The run to the final means they have a game in hand on all their relegation rivals: win that, and they jump to 16th. Have another tough run-in, though. EPA

Norwich City – Would arguably be one of the better sides to go down should they get relegated, but they now have the chance to scrap until the end. Still, they’re four points adrift at the bottom, and their remaining fixtures include Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City. Getty Images

LOSERS: Manchester City – Maybe a hollow victory, but the champions would have retained their crown had the season been voided. They sit second, and have played a game less, however Leicester are only four points off. EPA

Chelsea – Frank Lampard’s debut season as manager would be considered a huge success if Chelsea finished fourth. But a resurgent Man Utd will have them looking nervously over their shoulder. Reuters

Brighton – Sitting 15th and with a couple of teams between them and the relegation zone, the out-of-form coastal club are in real danger of getting sucked in. Only two points better off than Bournemouth in 17th. Reuters

West Ham United – Little wonder vice-chair Karren Brady wanted the season declared null and void. The Londoners are out of the relegation spots only on goal difference, and have still to play Spurs, Chelsea and Man United. PA

Watford – The third of the clubs peering down inside of up. Nigel Pearson’s side may have shown some late-season bloom, but they remain 17th - level on points with Bournemouth but one goal better off. Villa have played a game less, too. Getty Images


"Look out for each other. Please don't suffer alone, and remember that our great country has come through these enormous challenges before – and, together, we will do so again.

"We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer, but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families. They won't receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.

"When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring."

Updated: March 20, 2020 04:28 PM

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