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Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley tops up furloughed salaries to 100%

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley tops up furloughed staff’s salaries to 100% as he tries to move on from row over ‘ill-judged’ bid to keep stores open during lockdown

  • Mr Ashley revealed all staff have been paid their full salaries for April and May
  • In a video he gave a ‘special shout out’ to employees at company’s warehouse
  • They continued packing and sending online orders throughout the pandemic
  • Billionaire said he hoped workers safe and healthy during ‘very uncertain times’ 

Controversial businessman Mike Ashley is topping up his furloughed staff’s salary to 100% this month and says business has been better than expected as he prepares to open his shops on June 1.

After criticism for asking employees to come back to work while on furlough, trying to pay discounted prices for stock and initially refusing to close his stores, the Sports Direct boss has revealed all staff have been paid their full salaries for April and May.

In a video message he gave a ‘special shout out’ to employees at the company’s sprawling warehouse who have continued to work on online orders throughout the pandemic.

Controversial businessman Mike Ashley is topping up his furloughed staff’s salary to 100% this month and says business has been better than expected as he prepares to open his shops on June 1. In a video message, he thanked staff for continuing to work despite the lockdown 

And the billionaire said he hoped workers and their families remain safe and healthy during these ‘very uncertain times’.

Ashley, whose stores includes Sports Direct and House of Fraser, acknowledged the ‘sacrifice’ all employees have had to make in accepting initial pay cuts, including the slashing of executive pay to a maximum of £40,000.

But in a more optimistic note he says he hoped that Fraser Group stores could open from 1st June – with appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines in place.

And he praised the group’s online sales teams, particularly warehouse staff at the firm’s sprawling Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire, who have continued to work throughout the lockdown.

He wrote: ‘The Frasers Group is nothing without its people, and I thank you all for your continued support and hard work.

‘I want to thank all of those who committed to the revised salary. We find ourselves in exceptionally difficult times, and we know that this sacrifice was not an easy choice to make.’

After criticism for asking employees to come back to work while on furlough, trying to pay discounted prices for stock and initially refusing to close his stores, the Sports Direct boss has revealed all staff have been paid their full salaries for April and May

But he added: ‘Although the retail landscape remains uncertain, we now find ourselves with a little more clarity.

‘The Sunday before last, the Government announced their plans to restart the economy, including their proposal for the phased re-opening of retail stores.

‘Although not guaranteed, it appears we may be able to begin opening our stores from 1 June 2020.

‘If this is the case, we will be prepared for all social distancing and safety guidelines laid out by the Government.’

Ashley, who is worth £1.949 billion according to the 2020 Sunday Times rich list, continues that all staff will receive 100 per cent of their salary for May, as they did for April, including those who have been furloughed.

He wrote: ‘It is, therefore, with much pleasure and relief that I write to you today, to inform all direct Frasers Groups employees that we will not implement any salary reductions for May.

‘Our people will receive their full expected salaries, as they did in April. This applies to both furloughed and non-furloughed employees.

‘We’re very proud to be one of the only retailers to pay everyone 100 per cent of their salaries during this period.’

And in a video to accompany the letter Ashley praises the hard work of his staff, particularly workers at the Shirebrook headquarters in Derbyshire.

He said: ‘Morning everyone, I hope everyone is well and family are well. Just to say thanks for all your efforts during this unpleasant crisis.

Ashley, whose stores includes Sports Direct and House of Fraser, acknowledged the ‘sacrifice’ all employees have had to make in accepting initial pay cuts, including the slashing of executive pay to a maximum of £40,000

‘A special shout out to Shirebrook. I’m telling you they have done an absolutely amazing job.

‘So thanks everyone and I hope to see you soon.’

Ashley was severely criticized at the outbreak of the pandemic in March when he vowed to keep his Sports Direct stores open, claiming selling sports and fitness equipment is essential during the lockdown.

But the billionaire did a U-turn less than 24 hours later after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove called the decision wrong and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that ‘sports kit is not essential’.

All store staff were then put on furlough.

However online sales of Sports Direct and other Fraser Group stoes continued.

Ashley came under the spot light again in April when he sent a bombshell letter to suppliers asking for a 20 per cent discount on unpaid invoices for stock.

And his Fraser Group attracted fresh criticism earlier this month when managers asked staff to come back to work while they were on furlough.

Staff were asked to go into closed stores and pack up stock so it could be sold online.

At the time the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allowed companies to claim 80 per cent of staff wages from the government but it stated that employees cannot be asked to work during this time.

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TV and Movies

Former Doctor Who boss blames being ‘drunk on power’ for glaring continuity error – The Sun

STEVEN Moffat the former Doctor Who boss has a quirky reason why he let a glaring continuity error slip past him onto the show.

Speaking about the 2014 episode, Listen, during a fan watchalong, the former Doctor Who runner explained why he gave companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) the wrong lines to say.

The episode featured The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara tracking a monster who fed on children's fear and revisited The Doctor's childhood on Gallifrey.

During the episode Clara made a speech that was a throwback to a Doctor Who episode from the 1960s, where she said "fear makes companions of us all".

The original line spoken by the First Doctor, William Hartnell, was "of all of us".

Moffat explained on his temporary Twitter account, which he set up to tweet during the watchalong, why he mixed up the lines.



He wrote: "'Fear make companions of all of us!' The very first time the Dr is nice to anyone in Dr Who, those are his words (we had to wait till ep 3).

"Always loved the line, and the kindness that first emerged with it. This was my love letter to it."

"And in fact, I misquoted the line. Hartnell says 'of all of us' and Jenna says 'of us all.'

"Knew it was wrong, but couldn't let go of the way I'd misremembered it for so long. Like, was the DG gonna fine me cos I misquoted Hartnell. Drunk with power, I was."

Moffat's admission came as the BBC revealed more details about its new Time Lord Victorious adventure.

BBC Books announced two novels in the first of its mysterious project, which it teased last month.

Both will star Tennant – who played the tenth Doctor in the evergreen BBC sci-fi series – exploring themes that emerged in the actor’s last year in the role back in 2010.

The first book is titled Doctor Who: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead and written by Steve Cole.

In it the Doctor will travel back to the Dark Times of the universe to try and prevent death from ever becoming part of life.

The second story is called All Flesh is Grass and is written by Una McCormack, which will deal with the consequences of the Doctor’s actions, as he meets his past selves as those around him keep dying.

The BBC last month announced Time Lord Victorious would tell a new story, set within the Dark Times at the start of the universe, when even the Eternals were young.

It promises to be an "amazing epic" multi-platform experience will tell the story of several doctors protecting Gallifrey using different mediums including, comic books, audio dramas, magazines and more.

Former Doctor Who stars Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston will also be returning to the Doctor Who universe.

The BBC said last month in a statement: “Following several Doctors across space and time as they defend their home planet from a terrible race, this is a story like no other.”

Doctor Who: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead and Doctor Who: All Flesh is Grass cost £9.99, and are available for pre-order here and here

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TV and Movies

Ozark show boss teases ‘the biggest mistake of the Byrdes’ lives’ in season 4 after bloody finale – The Sun

OZARK may be awarded a fourth series due to its brutal season 3 finale and the soured relationship between the Byrde family and Ruth Langmore, one of the show’s bosses has suggested.

The hugely popular US crime drama follows financial advisor Martin “Marty” Byrde (Jason Bateman) and wife Wendy becoming entangled with local criminals in the Ozark region of Missouri, including The Navarro cartel.

Season 3 of the Emmy-winning Netflix show ended in shocking circumstances as the Navarro's lawyer Helen Pierce met an unexpected grizzly death at the hands of the Navarro’s own hitman – before Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) embraced the blood-splattered Byrdes and told the pair it was a ‘new beginning’.

Prior to that, Ruth badly fell out with Wendy and made plans to take the Byrdes out of the picture while aligning with Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery) and Wyatt Langmore (Charlie Tahan).

Now show runner Chris Mundy has teased that the Byrde-Navarro link plus Ruth’s new criminal relationships will be key to any next series. 

Mundy told EW: “If we're lucky enough to get a season 4, I think it will be about whether or not Ruth really can create something of her own that she wants and is sustainable, or if she wants something else. 


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“And I think it will be about if the Byrdes can they turn the biggest mistake of their lives into this huge advantage, and how much will karma catch up with them if they do?”

The row between Ruth (Julia Garner) and Wendy (Laura Linney) in the finale was regarded as one of the best scenes of the season.

Mundy said: “It's one of those times where Julia and Laura just made it better than I ever could have imagined.

“They're both just so good, and it's just so raw for both of them, so I'm really glad it plays. 

“I think the interesting thing about those two really going at it is that in a way, they're mirrors of each other. 

“They're both at their core very similar people and recognise that in each other, so letting [them] go at it…was really super-fun.”

Ozark is available to stream on Netflix now.

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TV and Movies

13 Reasons Why boss explains why season 4 must be the last – and rules out Netflix spin-off series

THE boss of Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' has explained why season four must be the last – and ruled out a spin-off series.

It was confirmed earlier this week that the fourth season of the controversial suicide drama would bring the story to its conclusion.

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Showrunner Brian Yorkey has now shed light on why the decision has been taken to end the series after its fourth outing.

He told Entertainment Weekly: "Somewhere in the midst of making season two, when it became clear that we might have the chance to make more seasons of this, I pretty quickly got to a place where it felt like a four-season story.

"I’m always a little bit suspicious of high school shows that go beyond four seasons because high school is four years long.

"It felt like bringing these characters to their graduation and to scattering to their next things felt like the logical ending point."

Despite the success of the series – and the controversy that has often come with it – Brian has stuck to his guns and kept the show as a four-season offering.

He continued: "So for a long time, the idea has been, should we be so lucky to have the opportunity, we would do four seasons of this.

"So certainly going into breaking story for season four, we knew it was the end."

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But if fans were hoping for a new story following the characters after they leave high school, they are going to be disappointed as Brian ruled out any kind of spin off.

He said: "I'd be very interested to see how some of these characters do at college but I love the idea also of leaving that up to all of our imaginations."

The series is based off to the book of the same name by Jay Asher, which was originally released in 2007.

Netflix announced on Monday that the 10-episode final season will premiere on June 5.


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TV and Movies

Isolation Stories show boss promises ground-breaking ITV drama will keep running until lockdown is over

ISOLATION Stories' show boss has promised the ground-breaking ITV drama will keep running until lockdown is over.

The first of four 15-minute episodes depicting people's lives in lockdown aired last night, starring Sheridan Smith as a heavily pregnant woman isolating alone.

A different story will play out each night, and producer Jeff Pope has revealed more mini-episodes could be filmed in the coming weeks while the country remains in lockdown.

Appearing on today's This Morning via video link, Jeff said that while he hoped the pandemic's situation would improve as soon as possible, he would continue to tell Isolation Stories if need be.

He said: "If it does carry on, then yes I do think we have to look at a way of reflecting our lives.

"I’m hoping there won’t be a need to do more but yes, if this carries on I think it is important that we do."


Actors including Robert Glenister and Angela Griffin appear in the upcoming episodes, all filmed in their own homes with their families helping to shoot the scenes.

Jeff said of Sheridan's fiancé Jamie Horn: "He was fantastic… he literally did everything.

"He moved her around, he did the lighting, he did her wardrobe, he made lunch.

"It was one of the most wonderful spirits of togetherness I have ever experienced working on a drama, even though no one was ever in the same room."

However the remote way of working wasn't without its challenges.

Jeff added: "Everything was done remotely. We’d have a Zoom screen and everybody would be there – Director, 1st Assistant Director.

"We had to learn talk etiquette, when to talk and when to shut up.

"We’d all be feeding in instructions and we had a make-up artist who advised Robert on how best to get that look.

"I didn't realise that when you’re looking really sweaty and ill, a little thin sheen of vaseline gives that shine.”

Isolation Stories continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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World News

Poultry club charity boss sparks fury after coronavirus comments

Poultry club charity boss sparks fury after claiming in newsletter that coronavirus is ‘nature’s way of cleansing the planet’

  • Louise Carpenter made the comments in a newsletter sent out to members
  • Carpenter says she was ‘trying to find reasoning’ for the coronavirus pandemic 
  • Trustees have ‘apologised unreservedly’ to anyone offended by the comments
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The chairwoman of a British charity has sparked controversy after making comments speculating about the reasons behind the coronavirus pandemic.

Louise Carpenter, who is head of the Poultry Club of Great Britain, claimed the virus was ‘nature’s way of cleansing the planet’ in a newsletter sent to members last week. 

But her comments have prompted a backlash from members, who are understood to have been left alarmed by her words. 

The h 

Her full statement in the newsletter, reported by The Sun, read: ‘I believe this is nature’s way of cleansing and protecting our planet for the future.’

Upon being made aware of the concerns of readers, Carpenter, who also works as a headteacher at a primary school in Nottinghamshire, apologised to the charity’s trustees and said she was merely trying to find ‘reasoning’.

The charity later released a statement apologising for any offence caused. 

The statement said: ‘It has been brought to our attention that some of the content in the recent Poultry Club of Great Britain newsletter has unintentionally caused distress to some members of the club and the wider public.

‘The Board of Trustees wish to convey an unreserved apology to anyone who may have been troubled by any of the content in the newsletter.

‘Louise and the trustees remain fully committed to working hard for all of our members and the wider poultry fancy. 

‘We wish all of our members, and the wider fancy the very best during this difficult time.’ 

Carpenter’s remarks came on the back of the UN releasing data showing the positive impact the global lockdown has had on the environment. 

The UN recently reported that the world’s carbon dioxide levels have dropped by six per cent as a result of the significant drop in usage of cars and public transport. 

However, the organisation also warned that levels will return those recorded pre-lockdown once the global economy recovers and isn’t a cure for climate change.

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World News

Music festival boss is jailed for flouting new coronavirus rules

Music festival boss is JAILED for flouting new coronavirus rules by giving officials a fake name when he landed on the Isle of Man via private jet

  • Richard Malcolm Powell, 59, gave fake name and wrong date of birth on arrival 
  • He was asked to provide details under new law implemented by the Isle of Man 
  • Powell jailed for ten weeks and fined £2,725 at Douglas Courthouse last week
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A music festival boss has been jailed after he flouted the Isle of Man’s coronavirus rules by giving officials false details when he landed via private jet. 

Richard Malcolm Powell, 59, gave a fake name as well as an incorrect date of birth, address and telephone number on a landing card when he arrived on the Isle of Man on March 20. 

He was required to provide these details following the implementation of a new law put in place to try and curb the spread of coronavirus, which also told any arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Powell was arrested on March 26 after concerns were raised by officials at the airport and the information was handed to police.     

Richard Malcolm Powell (pictured), 59, gave a fake name as well as an incorrect date of birth, address and telephone number when he arrived on the Isle of Man on March 20

Appearing at Douglas Courthouse last week, the businessman was jailed for ten weeks and fined £2,725 after breaching the Emergency Powers Act.

The court heard how Powell gave his name as Richard Howell on arrival and, after arousing suspicion, was arrested at Rivendell Cottage in Union Mills six days later.  

Powell was placed in custody on 24 hour lockdown for two weeks but has been on remand for 23 hours in the weeks since.

At court last week, Powell’s barrister Paul Rodgers said his client is an entrepreneur who has made a significant contribution to the island for a number of years.

He added the defendant pays into the top tax bracket and runs the island-based Mannifest music festival, which has raised money for Manx charities.

Mr Rodgers referred to a probation report which stated Powell had provided the incorrect details in order to protect his friend on whose plane he travelled to the island. 

Appearing at Douglas Courthouse (pictured) last week, the businessman was jailed for ten weeks and fined £2,725 for breaching the Emergency Powers Act

He said described it as a ‘momentarily bad decision’.

He was handed a custodial sentence via video link by Deputy High Bailiff Chris Arrowsmith.

Mr Arrowsmith said the regulations Powell breached were put in place to protect Manx residents.

He added: ‘His rationale was two-fold – to protect the pilot, who is unnamed, but mostly to avoid detection by the authorities.’

Powell was sentenced to six weeks’ custody for providing false details and four weeks’ custody for a previous crimes, including the theft of a fire extinguisher and a motoring offence. 

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World News

EU Boss: Summer holidays in Europe COULD be possible

Summer holidays in Europe COULD be possible if people stick to social distancing, EU boss von der Leyen says

  • EU chief said holidays could be possible by finding ‘smart solutions’ to tourism
  • Holidays would be different, with hygiene precautions and social distancing
  • Governments should lift measures ‘step by step and always with vigilance’ 
  • Her comments come a week after she told holidaymakers to not make plans
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

European holidaymakers can be optimistic that a summer getaway is still possible despite the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission’s president has said.

A week after telling jet-setters hoping for a European holiday to not make any plans this summer, Ursula von der Leyen has now suggested that holidays could be possible by finding ‘smart solutions.’

‘I think we are going to find smart solutions to have a summer vacation,’ the German said in an interview with Portuguese news outlet Expresso. 

‘Maybe a little different, with other hygiene measures, with a little more social distance, but it is impressive to see that we have found solutions. So I am optimistic about summer holidays.’

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president (pictured in the European parliament) has said holidays in Europe could be possible by finding ‘smart solutions’

Von der Leyen was responding to a question about whether Europeans would at least be able to holiday in the country where they live. However, she did not explicitly state in her comments whether she was talking about holidays abroad or domestically.

For many countries in Southern Europe, the prospect of no income from tourism is particularly dire, and such countries will be eager to find ways to accommodate visitors as soon as possible.

Von der Leyen said it was ‘good’ that countries are beginning to lift ‘restrictive measures’ but warned that governments should do so ‘with care, step by step and always with vigilance.’

Her comments will provide some optimism for the many people who have been forced to cancel their holiday plans due to the global coronavirus crisis. 

While travels to countries further abroad are still unlikely with flight restrictions in place, a holiday closer to home could provide people with that much-needed escape after months in lockdown.

‘It is difficult to predict what the next months will be like, but what I see is that we are beginning to learn to live with the virus’, said von der Leyen, who added that she was ‘impressed’ with solutions that are being found by sectors to cope with the crisis.

‘For example, I am impressed to see how innovative the economy is, in the way production has changed,’ she said. ‘Workers work in shifts, with smaller groups, with social distance, with new hygiene measures.’

Such measures, she hopes, can also be used to reopen the tourism sector that so many countries in Europe benefit from.

Her comments came after the European Commission published a series of guidelines to the 27 EU countries on how to improve coordination when it comes to lifting the measures in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

One of the measures in these guidelines is for governments to ensure that hospitals, and particularly intensive care units, have the capacity to treat patients with Covid-19 and also other diseases.

European countries, particularly those in the south like Spain, produce a lot of income through tourism. Tourist hot spots face a dire summer economically without income from tourism. Pictured: A beach in Spain lies empty as tourism is restricted because of the coronavirus crisis

Von der Leyen’s comments are more optimistic than those she gave last week in an interview with German newspaper Bild, in which she said ‘I’d advise everyone to wait before making holiday plans.

‘At the moment, no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August. We will need to learn to live with this virus for many months, probably until next year.’

These comments came after France warned European countries to keep their borders closed until September, while saying that French borders would have strict controls imposed on them until October 30.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron has called for external borders with the passport-free Schengen zone, of which Britain is not a part, to remain closed until September.

For British people, holidays outside the country will be more unlikely. While tourists in mainland Europe can travel more easily to other countries, Britons rely heavily on airlines.

Last month, budget airline easyJet grounded all of its flights indefinitely, while British Airways stopped its flights from Gatwick Airport on April 1.

Airlines that fly tourists all across Europe have grounded flights and furloughed staff, while borders between European countries remain closed or heavily restricted

BA later furloughed 36,000 of its employees on a modified version of the government’s job retention scheme.

Luton-based carrier easyJet confirmed it will get a £600million loan from the government’s coronavirus fund, and is borrowing an additional £400million from creditors.

The decision sparked a row with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou who had previously urged directors to scrap a £4.5billion order with Airbus for more than 100 new planes. 

Meanwhile, Jet2 has cancelled all flights and holidays until mid-June because restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic show no sign of easing.

The travel firm, which is Britain’s second-biggest holiday company and owned by Dart Group, said in a statement that its holidays and flights would not now restart until June 17.

Since April 4, Britons have been warned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against all non-essential global travel abroad ‘indefinitely’. 

According to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, European countries in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK have seen a combined total of 947,693 confirmed cases on the coronavirus, with 164,656 total deaths.

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Lifestyle

Ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery dated Spanish bar owner at same time as British ex-girlfriend – The Sun

FORMER Arsenal boss Unai Emery was dating a Spanish bar owner at the same time as seeing a UK-based businesswoman, it has emerged.

Last week, Brit Sacha Wright told The Sun on Sunday that the football boss branded her a “white witch” — blaming her for his team’s poor form that got him the sack after she ended their two-year relationship.



But now we can reveal Gunners flop Unai, 48, fired by Arsenal last November, has also been dating bar owner Lucila Vila Segui in his native Spain.

A source close to her said tonight: “Lucila has travelled all over the world with Unai and, while they are not married, they have lived together like man and wife.

"They’ve been together more than ten years and she has been his partner ever since he split from his actual wife, Luisa.

“She is still with Unai now. It has caused great confusion because Sacha says she was with him until last month.”

In February last year, Lucila shared a picture on social media of her and dad-of-one Unai posing cheek to cheek with the caption: “Our Valentine’s Day celebrated early (for obvious reasons).”

Another picture online showed her kissing him.

And she said of Unai: “Winners never give up and those that give up never win.”

'GREAT CONFUSION'

Lucila, who runs MarBlanc bar in Majorca, lived with Unai in Paris during his two-year tenure at French club PSG.

Last week, Londoner Sacha, 35, opened up for the first time about her two-year relationship with Unai. She revealed that he met her after most games and ­regularly flew her to Spain for romantic breaks.

But she added that he never introduced her as his girlfriend and would get upset if people tried to take their photo.

She dumped him over his lack of commitment in September last year, a short time before Arsenal went on the losing run of seven games that led to him being fired in November.

Sacha decided to take him back just before the New Year and it was then that he blamed her for getting him the sack and they split again last month.



Last week, she explained: “He told me I was a white witch as I had brought him so much bad luck.

“He said, ‘It was the day we broke up that we started to lose.’

“He told me he was so stressed out that his mind wasn’t in the right place after we separated.”




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Lifestyle

F1 boss Brawn draws up masterplan to save 2020 season including bumper 19 races and fans shut off from tracks – The Sun

FORMULA ONE bosses are planning radical measures for a 19-race season – once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

The plan is ambitious given the opening nine races are either cancelled or postponed, but F1 boss Ross Brawn is optimistic.

Brawn's blueprint comes after Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto pledged his team's support for a new calendar.

As SunSport reported, that is likely to include double-headers, starting at European tracks – most likely Silverstone and the home of the French GP, Circuit Paul Ricard.

However, they are initially likely to be behind closed doors – and once travel restrictions are lifted.

He said: "Our view is that a European start will be favourable, and that could even be a closed event.

"We could have a very enclosed environment, where teams come in on charters, we channel them into the circuit, we make sure everyone is tested, cleared, there is no risk to anyone and we have a race with no spectators.

"That's not great, but it's better than no racing at all. I think we have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport, sat at home.

"A lot of them are isolating, and to be able to put on a sport, and keep the sport alive and entertain people would be a huge bonus with this crisis we have. But we can't put anyone at risk.

"We're looking at the organisational structure that would give us the earliest start, but also the ability to maintain that start.

It's not great, but it's better than no racing at all."

"There's no point having a start and then stopping again for a while and having another start.

"I think it's most likely to be in Europe, and it's conceivable that it could be a closed event."

F1 have already changed the date of their enforced summer shutdown, bringing it forward to Easter to clear the way for back to back racing later in the year.

The sport needs to run a minimum of eight races to qualify as a world championship season.

And, despite Canada becoming the latest race to be delayed, Brawn, F1's MD, says that he still believes they can get in up to 19 races.

He added: "Eight races is actually the minimum we can have a world championship, within the FIA statutes.

"We could achieve eight races by starting in October. So if you wanted a drop-dead point, it would be October.

"But then there is always the possibility we could run into next year. That's assuming we finish this year. And that's being explored.

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"Can we stray into January to finish the season? There are all sorts of complications, you can imagine, with that.

"If we were able to start in the beginning of July, we could do a 19-race season."

One way of achieving that number would be doubling up races at particular tracks.

F1 teams are open to the idea of a weekend of multiple GPs, with tracks using different layouts or races being run in reverse.

Brawn said: "It would be tough – three races on, one weekend off, three races on, one weekend off – but we have looked at all the logistics and we think we can hold an 18 to 19 race season if we can, providing we are able to get started in July.

"We may have some two-day races in order to meet the logistical needs.

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