The Premier League and English Football League have suspended all games until April 3 and the Six Nations clash between Wales and Scotland has been postponed as social-distancing measures to tackle coronavirus are ramped up.
Championship, League One, and League Two fixtures will all be affected by the postponement, which was announced on Friday morning.
The Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have also postponed all matched until April 3.
All matches in UEFA competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, will not take place next week due to the coronavirus, the governing body has also announced.
The statement distributed by EFL reads: “The FA, Premier League, EFL and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until 3 April at the earliest.
“This action, which will be kept under constant review, has been taken due to the increasing numbers of Clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the Covid-19 virus.
“The postponements include all matches in the Championship, League One and League Two, as well as all Academy and youth team fixtures.”
The spokesperson added that clubs had been advised not to allow player appearances, training ground visits, and fan meetings.
They added: “Whilst the EFL board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis.
“This decision has not been taken lightly, but the EFL must prioritise the health and well-being of players, staff and supporters while also acknowledging the government’s national efforts in tackling this outbreak.”
The Welsh Rugby Union announced on Friday afternoon that Satuday’s Six Nations match against Scotland would be postponed – a u-turn from Friday morning’s insistence that the game would go ahead.
In a new statement, the WRU said: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.
“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.”
Bournemouth announced on Friday that five of their employees, including goalkeeper Artur Boruc, were self-isolating having displayed symptoms consistent with the virus.
A statement from the club said: “Goalkeeper Artur Boruc, along with four first-team members of staff, are self-isolating in line with government and Public Health guidelines. This is a precautionary measure as, at this stage, none have tested positive for coronavirus.”
Football leagues across Europe have either been suspended or ordered to play behind closed doors, but Boris Johnson said on Thursday that while similar measures could come into force, it would not be happening immediately.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus on Thursday night with their match on Saturday against Brighton postponed, while Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi is also confirmed to have contracted the virus.
Premier League officials held an emergency meeting on Friday morning amid the ongoing outbreak.
The decision to postpone the games represents a swift u-turn from the EFL’s position on Thursday evening, when a spokesperson said that all fixtures would continue as normal.
The statement read: “In light of today’s announcement by the UK government, EFL matches will continue to take place as normal while the guidance from the relevant authorities remains that there is no medical rationale to close or cancel sporting events at this time.
“The EFL, however, will continue to work with government and relevant stakeholders to further develop contingency plans to ensure the League is best placed to act as and when any potential restrictions may come into force.”
The statement however did confirm that those plans were subject to change.
“The League will continue to liaise with the government regarding ongoing developments and will continue to work with clubs to ensure players, staff and supporters are updated and appraised accordingly,” a spokesperson added.
“These matters are, of course, subject to change and we will update as appropriate.”
England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka cancelled
Other sporting fixtures have also faced cancellation or postponement. England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka has been called off.
A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming test series between Sri Lanka and England.
“At this time, the physical and mental well-being of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.
“We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation. We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important test series.”
Golf tournaments postponed
The US Masters, the first men’s golfing major of the year, has also been postponed.
The blue riband event at Augusta National was due to take place from April 9 to 12. A new date is yet to be arranged.
Augusta National chair Fred Ridley said: “Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision.
“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”
The Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International, due to take place at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club next week, has been postponed with a view to it being rescheduled later in the year.
“There is no doubt that the last few weeks have been extremely challenging for sports and postponing next week’s tournament has not been an easy decision but we fully appreciate the recent restrictions which have been introduced in respect of travel into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said LET chief executive Alexandra Armas.
First Grand Tour of the cycling season postponed
Meanwhile, the Giro d’Italia, cycling’s first Grand Tour of the season that was due to start on May 9 in Budapest, has been postponed.
The announcement from RCS Sport came after the organising committee of the planned opening stages in Hungary said it was unable to deliver the event due to the state of emergency in the country.
“RCS Sport, having taken note of the international and national situation, announces that the date of the 2020 Giro d’Italia is thereby postponed,” a statement said.
Organisers will work with the Hungarian authorities to allow the race to take place at a later date. No new date will be announced for the race before April 3 following consultation with the Italian government and other authorities.
Formula One halts two further races
Formula One has announced the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix will be postponed.
The decision follows the previous announcement that the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, due to be contested this weekend, had been postponed.
A statement on the Formula 1 Twitter account read: “Due to the continued global spread of Covid-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA and race organisers, a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Vietnam Grand Prix due to take place on March 20-22 and April 3-5 respectively.”