Medical Protection

Patriots Plane Used To Transport Masks into US

The New England Patriots team plane was used to charter a cargo of 1.2 million N25 masks from Shenzhen, China to the USA to help with coronavirus shortages. A deal to acquire the masks was brokered by the governor of Massachusetts and after a long diplomatic procedure was finally able to enlist the help of the Patriots’ Robert and Jonathan Kraft.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker agreed to the deal with various Chinese manufacturers for the masks but was left searching for a way to transport them into the country. New England Patriots’ president Jonathan Kraft is a lifelong friend of Governor Baker and offered the use of the team’s Boeing 767, which is normally used to transport the players and staff to and from NFL games.

The Krafts had to work with Governor Baker, the U.S. State Department as well as China’s counsel general in New York to get permission for the plane to land in China, with diplomatic hurdles due to the coronavirus pandemic continuously arising. Eventually permission was granted, with the condition that no member of the flight crew would leave the aircraft while it was grounded in China for just under three hours as the masks were loaded onto the plane before it headed back to Massachusetts.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said to the Wall Street Journal. “In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.”

The Kraft family agreed to pay $2 million, approximately half the cost of the cargo transported back, and with the agreement of Massachusetts Governor Baker, 300,000 masks were pledged to the state of New York, as well.

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“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” Kraft said in a statement to The Boston Globe. “We knew that purchasing greatly-needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals.”

“No days off. Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen,” tweeted Governor Baker.

“The Krafts, our partners Ambassador Huang Ping, Dr. Jason Li, Gene Hartigan and our Covid-19 Command Center Personnel teamed up to get this job done and we eagerly await the plane landing at Logan Airport soon,” Governor Baker went on to say, in an statement provided to CNN.

“Our administration will keep pursuing the PPE (personal protective equipment) necessary to support our brave front-line workers who are working tirelessly to save lives during this pandemic.”

As of Thursday the 2nd of April, the state of Massachusetts reported 7,738 cases of coronavirus, as well as 122 deaths related to the pandemic, according to the figures from the John Hopkins University.

Elsewhere in the NFL, ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has pledged to donate 10 million meals to Feeding America. The 42-year-old is partnering with private aviation company, Wheels Up, as part of their “Meals Up initiative”, which Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, have been heavily involved in.

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“Proud to partner with @WheelsUp for their #MealsUp initiative to supply 10 million meals to @FeedingAmerica.” Brady, who reportedly is moving into Derek Jeter’s old mansion in Tampa Bay for his time at the Buccaneers, tweeted about the initiative.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, has set up a new initiative, “22 and You”, to help healthcare workers in North and South Carolina.

“Like all of you, I have been watching the COVID-19 public health emergency with shock and sadness. I am moved by the heroic and selfless efforts of our frontline healthcare providers throughout the Carolinas and beyond. As such, I have decided to launch an effort to help them in the life-saving work.”

“I have created a program called “22 and You” to raise much needed funds for our healthcare heroes. My partners at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Bose have stepped up and donated to the program. We will be directing the monies raised to NC Healthcare Foundation and South Carolina Hospital Association Foundation.

“I am personally matching the commitment of these great companies and encourage people to donate whatever you can: $22, $220, or $2,200,” McCaffrey said in a statement.

Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has committed $75,000 to three Minnesota organizations focused on helping youth and families who are suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

On March 15th, the Thielen Foundation made a $25,000 donation to Second Harvest Heartland to help feed students that are struggling to feed themselves during this difficult time.

European Soccer Ball

European Soccer Makes Plans To Continue

European soccer leagues have been asked by organizing bodies not to abandon their seasons as they set about making plans to resume games across Europe in July.

Regulatory bodies UEFA, the European Club Association [ECA] and European Leagues [EL] have written a letter to clubs and leagues across all of their 55 member associations, asking everyone to “walk united” as they face the effects of the pandemic together.

“It is of paramount importance that even a disruptive event like this epidemic does not prevent our competitions from being decided on the field, in accordance with their rules and that all sporting titles are awarded on the basis of results,” the letter states, as reported by Sky Sports.

“As responsible leaders in our sport, this is what we must ensure, until the last possibility exists and whilst planning, operational and regulatory solutions are available.

“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

Rumours have surfaced that English Premier League officials are making plans to continue the season in July, with no fans and clubs and media being isolated in ‘World Cup-like’ camps. In the Netherlands, clubs are calling for the season to be cancelled, while the board of directors of the Belgian Jupiler Pro League have recommended that the season be ended immediately.

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UEFA called each one of its 55 member associations to discuss the plans for a return to soccer, as well as how each nation is dealing with the crisis. No potential desire to end seasons early was reported to UEFA, however.

“The working groups have held several meetings and are in daily contact to ensure that the overriding objective of taking all competitions to their natural end is met. In order to achieve it, concrete plans are being drawn up,” adds the letter.

“Their work is now focusing on scenarios encompassing the months of July and August, including the possibility that the UEFA competitions restart after the completion of domestic leagues. A joint management of calendars is strictly required as the conclusion of the current season must be coordinated with the start of the new one, which may be partly impacted because of the overstretch.

“Closely following the development of the current situation, the calendar working group will indicate as soon as possible, and ideally by mid-May, which of the plans can be enacted for the completion of the season without leaving anyone behind. Stopping competitions should really be the last resort after acknowledging that no calendar alternative would allow to conclude the season.”

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that he believes English Premier League players should take a wage cut during this difficult period to allow clubs to continue paying their non-playing staff.

Four English Premier League clubs (Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Norwich City and AFC Bournemouth) have placed non-playing staff on furlough leave, which is a government support scheme that pays employees 80 per cent of their wages while they are not working. No announcements have been made about players’ salaries, but it is understood that clubs and players are in talks with officials.

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“Given the sacrifices people are making, including some of my colleagues in the NHS, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone into work and caught the disease and have sadly died, I think the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution; take a pay cut and play their part,” Matt Hancock said in a daily government briefing.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) met with English Premier League officials about potential player wage cuts but could come to no agreement. The PFA have issued a statement to players in a bid to warn them that it is “vitally important” they speak to their union before accepting wage cuts.

“Contrary to some press reports the PFA has never stated that it will block all wage deferrals. What we have sought to put in place is a structured and unified approach to ensure a fair response across the leagues,” A PFA statement read.

“The players we have spoken to recognize that the non-playing staff are a vital part of their club and they do not want to see club staff furloughed unfairly. Any use of the government’s support schemes without genuine financial need is detrimental to the wider society.

“We fully accept that players will have to be flexible and share the financial burden of the COVID-19 outbreak in order to secure the long-term future of their own club and indeed the wider game.”

Eddie Howe (Bournemouth) and Graham Potter (Brighton) are the only two English Premier League managers who have agreed to take a wage cut so far.


2010 Winter Olympics Have Led To A Decade Of Canadian Confidence In Sport

Canada aimed to win the most medals in 2010, and it won the most golds. Mikael Kingsbury’s perception of his own potential changed a decade ago. He was a 17-year-old forerunner testing the moguls course for competitors about to ski the Cypress Mountain slope at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Kingsbury witnessed Alex Bilodeau win gold and become Canada’s first Olympic champion at a home Games.

“Seeing a Canadian win the Olympics, Alex, and knowing him since I’m very young and seeing him accomplish his dream was huge,” Kingsbury recalled.

Ten years later, Kingsbury is the current Olympic and world champion.

On the other side of the country in Halifax, 14-year-old gymnast Ellie Black watched the Winter Olympics on television and wished she was in Vancouver celebrating the host country’s success.

Fourteen gold medals won by the Canadian team in Vancouver and Whistler set what was then a record for the most by any country at a single Winter Olympics.

“I think that inspired a lot of us to really see that ‘OK, we can make it to the Olympics, we can be on top of that podium, we can have those performances and have that success,’” Black said.

“If you have those dreams, you’ve just got to work hard to make them happen.”

Black became the first Canadian to win an all-around medal at the world gymnastics championship in 2017 with a silver.

She’s a medal contender at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The afterburn of 2010 is fuelled by inspired athletes and stable money a decade after the Feb. 12 opening ceremonies.

The prevailing wisdom is it takes a decade and a half to build an Olympian.

So Canada is still in the window of athletes like Kingsbury and Black, who both aspired to more after 2010 and are reaching their athletic peak.

“There will be some gas left in that story and some of those young people from back then will be on the team in Tokyo for the Summer Games,” Swimming Canada’s high-performance director John Atkinson said.

Marielle Thompson was a ski cross forerunner in 2010. She watched Ashleigh McIvor win gold and duplicated the feat four years later in Sochi, Russia.

Kelsey Serwa made it three straight gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

“I think a big part of keeping the fire burning is realizing what we did and making sure it’s part of our culture now,” said national ski cross team high performance director Dave Ellis.

The federal government has maintained an annual investment of about $200 million in Olympic and Paralympic winter and summer sport.

Own The Podium, established five years out from 2010 to get athletes on the podium at their home games, directs about $65 million of that money to the sports federations developing athletes with medal potential.

OTP assesses medal potential and provides technical expertise to sport federations.

The targeted-funding strategy survived a federal government review in 2017.

Investment in coaching, sport science and technology, next-generation athletes five to eight years out from peak performances and the establishment of sport institutes across Canada are also part of the 2010 legacy.

The Canadian Olympic Committee prepares athletes for Olympic Games and looks after them upon arrival, as well as contributing $9 million annually to OTP’s work.


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Baseball Field

MLB Hires Gregor Blanco, Nick Hundley As Senior Directors Of Baseball Operations

Gregor Blanco and Nick Hundley have been hired by Major League Baseball as senior directors of baseball operations, as per a league press release.  The news would seemingly bring an end to the playing careers of the two veterans, who were teammates on the 2018 Giants, and have 22 years of Major League experience between them.

It was just yesterday that Hundley spoke of negotiations with a few teams and his desire to play in 2020, so while Hundley’s retirement is perhaps a bit of a surprise, the 36-year-old former catcher will hang up his mask and move into a new phase of his baseball career.  Originally a second-round pick for the Padres in the 2005 draft, Hundley spent 510 of his 974 career MLB games with San Diego, and also suited up for the Rockies, Giants, Orioles, and A’s over the course of his 12-year career.  Oakland was the last official stop for Hundley, as he appeared in 31 games for the A’s during an injury-marred 2019 season, then failed to crack the Phillies’ big league roster after signing a minors deal with Philadelphia last August.

Hundley hit .247/.299/.405 with 93 home runs over 3373 career plate appearances, with an 89 wRC+/91 OPS+ that grades out as pretty solid for a catcher, especially one who usually worked in a platoon or backup role.  As with many veteran catchers who have stuck around the sport, Hundley has a good reputation in the clubhouse, and for working well with pitchers and calling games, even mentioned as a potential future candidate to someday become a manager.

Blanco was also a popular figure with teammates and fans over six seasons in San Francisco, as the outfielder went from being an unheralded minor league free agent pickup in the 2011-12 offseason to a big contributor to the Giants’ World Series championship clubs in 2012 and 2014.  After three nondescript years with the Braves and Royals and then not even playing in a big league game in 2011, Blanco became a regular in the Giants’ outfield, capable of playing above-average defense at any of the three positions.  No discussion of Blanco’s glovework is complete, of course, without mention of his diving grab in the seventh inning of what became a perfect game for Matt Cain on June 13, 2012.

Over 1060 games and appearances in parts of ten Major League seasons, Blanco hit .255/.338/.348 (91 OPS+/93 wRC+) with 26 homers and 122 stolen bases in 3349 plate appearances with the Giants, Braves, Royals, and Diamondbacks.  Blanco didn’t play in a big league game in 2019, as he didn’t return to the Show after signing a minor league contract with the Mets last offseason.

The 36-year-old Blanco will now join Hundley within MLB’s organizational hierarchy.  As per the press release, Blanco and Hundley will work “as an MLB liaison to Major League Clubs, players and umpires” and “will aid in the administration of on-field discipline and will provide insights regarding on-field rules, initiatives, technology, instant replay and other topics.  Blanco and Hundley will participate in MLB’s youth baseball development initiatives in the United States and Latin America, will speak to amateur players at MLB events and will assist in the evaluation of prospective umpires.”

We at MLB Trade Rumors wish Blanco and Hundley all the best in their efforts to help grow and develop the sport, and congratulate them on their fine playing careers.


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Coronavirus Pills & Syringe

Coronavirus: 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships postponed in China

The 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing have been postponed because of fears over the spread of the coronavirus in China.

The championships were to be held from 13-15 March but governing body World Athletics pushed them back 12 months.

World Athletics sought advice from the World Health Organisation and turned down offers to host from other cities.

The coronavirus has killed more than 130 people in China and has spread to 16 countries globally.

Around 6,000 people in all have been infected by the virus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The epicentre of the outbreak is the Chinese city of Wuhan, around 370 miles from Nanjing.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation warned the “whole world needs to be on alert”.

A World Athletics statement read: “The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.

“We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships.

“However, given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date.

“We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organising committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event.”

The 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships was held in Birmingham, while they will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2022.


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2020 Olympics

Where to Stay in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics

With the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics coming up in July, now is the time to organize travel plans and book accommodations, especially if you want easy access to sporting events and all the exciting activities the city has to offer.

Deciding on a location is the first step. The Olympic events are situated in two main zones: the Heritage Zone to the west, which is the area of the 1964 Olympics, and the new Tokyo Bay Zone to the east. The Heritage Zone has the most options in terms of restaurants, sightseeing, shopping, and local culture. The Olympic Stadium, where all the track and field events are taking place as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, is in this zone, and is near lively Harajuku and trendy Omotesando. For a home base that’s close to the stadium, stay in Shibuya or Akasaka. Other great neighborhoods to consider are Ginza and Tokyo Station, as these are sandwiched between both the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone. Both are great areas for food, shopping, and sightseeing.

If most of the events you are attending are in the Tokyo Bay Zone (gymnastics, aquatics, and volleyball are here), there are a few options, particularly in Odaiba. There is less to do and see here, but if the games are your main focus, this may be your best bet. Transportation in Tokyo is excellent, so you can easily travel into the main part of the city from here. Read on for some of our favorite accommodations across all these areas.

Muji Hotel Ginza, the Japanese homeware brand’s first domestic hotel, is in a fantastic location in the heart of Ginza. This fairly new hotel—it opened in April 2019—is above the flagship store, with a mix of traditionally inspired design and modern practicalities. Rooms are minimalist, while also warm and inviting, with comfortable beds and soft linens. Don’t miss the delicious Japanese-style breakfast and local food in the stylish hotel restaurant, Wa.

Address: 6F, 3-3-5 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061Metro: GinzaBook Now:

Millennials Shibuya is an affordable capsule hotel located a four-minute walk from Shibuya Station. Japan is famous for its compact capsule rooms, which were traditionally used by businessmen and have since been revamped for the modern traveler looking for a low-priced, no-frills place to rest their head. At this well-designed hotel, the rooms are small, but there are communal areas for socializing or getting a bit of work done. Its location in the heart of buzzing Shibuya means you can wander straight into the action.

Address: 1-20-13 Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0041Metro: ShibuyaBook Now:

Dormy Inn is a consistent and clean hotel chain in Japan—think Holiday Inn, but with added Japanese hospitality. This branch in particular is in an unbeatable location, near Cat Street, Harajuku, and Yoyogi Park. It’s a superb choice for both sightseeing and access to the Olympic Stadium for the field and track events. While the rooms may be small—this is a budget hotel—the Inn makes up for it in the details and extras, like the hotel’s own onsen, a traditional Japanese bath area and sauna.

Address: 6-24-4 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001Metro: Meiji-jingumae ‘Harajuku’ StationBook Now:

The high-end Hoshinoya Tokyo embodies Japanese elegance and design. Located near Tokyo Station, the hotel is well placed to access both the Heritage and Tokyo Bay Zones, and is right next to the Imperial Palace and close to the fabulous sushi restaurants of Ginza. Designed by architect Rie Azuma and opened in 2016, the space is a modern take on the traditional ryokan. Rooms are spacious and serene, with shoji sliding doors, an enormous futon bed, and a bathroom that could be a spa. Enjoy cultural experiences, such as a Japanese tea ceremony, and watch a grand kagura performance (Japanese magic trick show) in the sake lounge.

Address: 1-9-1 Ōtemachi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0004Metro: Otemachi StationBook Now:

Established over 100 years ago in 1915, the Tokyo Station Hotel is steeped in history and heritage. The aesthetic of the hotel is European in influence, while the exceptional service reflects omotenashi, the traditional culture of Japanese hospitality. The location, at Tokyo Station, means that you’re in the best position to access both the Heritage and Tokyo Bay Zones, as well as the rest of the city. It’s a great place for food lovers, with six restaurants in the hotel as well as a myriad of fantastic dining spots in and around Tokyo Station.

Address: 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0005Metro: Tokyo StationBook Now:

Hotel rooms in Tokyo can be compact, so if you want space and privacy, renting an apartment on Airbnb is a great option. This Akasaka Airbnb is a great option during the Olympics, thanks to its location in the Heritage Zone. It has a traditional tatami room for lounging, plus a kitchen and dining area. There’s a distinctly local vibe to the neighbourhood, with small restaurants and shops dotted along the street, and three metro stations within walking distance. You’ll also be near the sights and restaurants of Roppongi.

Address: 2-20-15, Akasaka, Minato CityMetro: AkasakaBook Now:


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Baseball Game

Nolan Arenado Isn’t Happy after Rockies Fail to Make Good on Spending Promises

To hear Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tell it, it’s time to stop all the Nolan Arenado trade talk.

Colorado’s star third baseman has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this offseason, which is a consequence of the big contract extension he signed last winter plus his vocal frustrations with the Rockies’ 91-loss campaign in 2019. The Cardinals, Rangers and Braves, among other teams, have been reported as having varying degrees of interest in Arenado. Now, though, it appears trade talks are off. Here’s what Bridich had to say on the matter Monday, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:

“With the season coming up and spring training on the horizon, we are going to start focusing on that. We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected — with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman.

“So we can put this to bed and collectively look forward to the upcoming season and work toward that.”

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Female Hockey Player

Women Inspiring Young Women to Play Hockey & Embrace a New Sport

When winter rolls around you can find the young and old looking for some ice, lacing up their skates and grabbing their sticks, hoping to get into a hockey game.

Madison Gardner was in Traverse City at Centre Ice Arena to learn how this sport is empowering local women.

One of those women is Traverse City Women’s Hockey Organizer, Joelle Beaudoin. She said, “There’s something about playing as a team and playing as a family and once you play with a team you’re friends with them for life.”

She has inspired many young girls to start their hockey careers right at Centre Ice in Traverse City. Young girls just like Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn is in the fifth grade at Cherry Hill and is confident and proud of her sport. She said, “I would say it’s a really fun sport and I’m not surprised that a lot of people want to play it.”

These young athletes are not alone either, they are just the beginning level of a lifetime of women’s athletes in the area.

The sport is leaving a lasting impression on young women that can follow them off the ice and into life. The Traverse City Women’s Club Hockey Team is showing women of all ages, shapes and athletic abilities that a true victory doesn’t always show up on a scoreboard.

Many of the women who play have gotten a late start in the game and they wish they would have started earlier. Joelle got a later start, but today it’s become a part of her life. She said, “I started playing when I was probably early 20’s so I didn’t grow up playing hockey and just the passion of being out there and playing an intense sport. It’s kind of one of my things.”

The goal here isn’t always to score. These ladies are taking a chance, creating a community and of course, enjoying a little friendly competition.


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Super bowl

Why Super Bowl Halftime Performers Don’t Get Paid

FOX Business’ Grady Timble says a 30-second advertisement for the Super Bowl can cost a reported $5.6 million.

When Jennifer Lopez and Shakira co-headline the Super Bowl halftime show for a live audience of roughly 100 million viewers on Sunday they will perform without earning a paycheck.

The NFL does not pay its halftime show performers, which have included chart-topping musicians and singers like Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Instead, the league covers production costs and other expenses related to the show, which often costs several million dollars.

While performers don’t receive a direct Super Bowl payday, an appearance on such a massive international stage can yield other financial benefits. The halftime show provides a rare opportunity for artists to promote their music and performing chops to tens of millions of viewers at one time.

Maroon 5 had a sales spike of 488 percent after its performance at last year’s Super Bowl, according to Nielsen data. In 2017, Lady Gaga had sales of her digital catalog increase more than 1,000 percent on the day of the game. She sold roughly 150,000 albums and songs.

The Super Bowl LIV halftime show will be the first produced by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter’s Roc Nation Sports, which signed a wide-ranging production partnership last fall. The game will air in more than 180 countries around the world.

“Ever since I saw Diana Ross fly off into the sky at the halftime show, I dreamed of performing at the Super Bowl,” Lopez said in a statement last September.  “And now it’s made even more special not only because it’s the NFL’s 100th anniversary, but also because I am performing with a fellow Latina.  I can’t wait to show what us girls can do on the world’s biggest stage.”


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Spotify in Talks to Acquire Sports Media Outlet The Ringer

Spotify is in talks to acquire ‘sports and pop-culture outlet’ the Ringer, founded by ESPN exec Bill Simmons in 2016.

That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported on Friday (January 17) that ‘discussions are early’, and that its sources ‘cautioned’ that the talks are still at such an early stage that a deal might not even happen.

SPOT first hinted at its intention to establish itself in the sports world last February following the acquisition of podcasting content business Gimlet Media and distribution service Anchor for $343m in total.

Around that the time, the firm was advertising for a Sports Lead, Spotify Studios and said it was planning to launch a “sports content portfolio” based around audio podcasts.

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