Champions Cup suspended; Man United to play Liverpool in FA Cup

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Mark Noble slides to tackle Liam Hogan during West Ham’s win over Stockport County. Photograph: Martin Rickett/Getty/AFP

Mark Noble slides to tackle Liam Hogan during West Ham’s win over Stockport County. Photograph: Martin Rickett/Getty/AFP

The 2020-21 Champions Cup has been suspended, with the competition’s third and fourth rounds - due to take place over the next two weekends - being cancelled yesterday. This comes after a formal directive was given to the Top14 by the French Government ordering them not to compete in cross-border matches with teams from the UK, due to the new variant of coronavirus which has sent rates spiralling. With games unable to be replayed suspension is likely to see the tournament move straight to a round of 16, which would mean Leinster and Munster progress while Connacht and Ulster drop into the Challenge Cup. And while the European postponement has suggested a circuit-breaker for sport could be imminent, in his column this morning Gerry Thornley has argued elite rugby in Ireland should be allowed to continue. He writes: “No less than the All-Ireland championships, rugby has provided a semblance of normality as well as entertainment at a time when there has been precious little of either around.”

Manchester United have been drawn to play Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup, meaning the two rivals will play each other twice in two weeks following Sunday’s Premier League clash at Anfield. The winners of that tie will then face West Ham or Doncaster Rovers in the fifth round, after the Hammers edged out Stockport County at a sodden Edgeley Park last night - Craig Dawson’s late header proving the difference against Jim Gannon’s side. Meanwhile Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United can go three points clear at the top of the table tonight, as they face Burnley in their game in hand at Turf Moor (kick-off 8.15pm). Elsewhere basement side Sheffield United welcome Newcastle to Bramall Lane (6pm) and Everton travel to play Wolves (8.15pm).

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