As we approach the end of 2020, Insider Sport is looking back at the top stories from each month of what has been a turbulent year.
As can be expected, much of the focus in March and April was on the COVID-19 pandemic and the tremendous impact it had on the sports and betting industries.
The world of sports was dealt a significant blow when in March it was announced that various sporting events would be indefinitely postponed or suspended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In English football, the FA made the decision to suspend all football until 30 April, leading to months of uncertainty as to whether the league would restart or be cancelled entirely for the year. Various other sports including horse racing, greyhound racing and major boxing fixtures soon followed.
Several sports competitions were replaced by virtual and esports events in March, with notable examples being F1, Nascar and the Grand National.
The much anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics was also pushed back by 12 months after the Olympic Committees of Great Britain, Canada and the US refused to attend the set date. However, in their joint statement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chairman Thomas Bach revealed that the Olympic torch would remain in Japan to serve as ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’.
By April there were glimmers of hope. Towards the end of the month Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga announced plans to resume football matches on 9 and 18 May respectively. The Bundlesliga also revealed plans to provide its clubs with much needed financial support. On the other hand, the English Cricket Board (ECB) postponed professional cricket matches until 1 July.
However, one major story which gave sports fans a much needed break from COVID-19 news in April was the proposed £300 million takeover of Newcastle United FC by a Saudi-backed consortium, which was met with great anticipation by Magpies fans but scepticism by others.
BeIn Sport Chief Executive, Yousef al-Obaidly, urged English football authorities to thoroughly investigate the potential takeover, describing the Saudi Arabian government of facilitating a ‘near three-year theft of the Premier League’s commercial rights’.