The Premier League and other European leagues have been given until May 25 by UEFA to provide plans to restart their season.
European football’s governing body has issued guidelines to all 55 associations after an agreement last week that qualification for next season’s Champions League and Europa League must be decided on ‘sporting merit’ this season.
The guidance, issued by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis states: “National associations and/or leagues should be in a position to communicate to UEFA by 25 May 2020 the planned restart of their domestic competitions including the date of restart and the relevant competition format.”
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UEFA has also asked associations, such as the Dutch FA, to “explain the special circumstances justifying such premature termination” by the same deadline, in relation to the clubs it wants to compete in Europe next season.
UEFA’s Executive Committee will hold its next conference call on May 27, where it intends to reach a decision over whether this season’s European competitions can be completed in August.
But UEFA’s top officials will be sympathetic to any league that is unable to provide clarity by May 25, due to ongoing government uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.
A UEFA working group has made a “strong recommendation” that domestic seasons are completed, but administrators would prefer suspended domestic competitions to restart “with a different format”, rather than cancel them.
It has been agreed that associations may cancel their season only if governments prevent sporting events from taking place or ‘insurmountable economic problems’ risk the ‘long-term financial stability’ of domestic competitions and clubs.
UEFA has also asked the 12 host cities of next summer’s delayed European Championship to confirm their participation by Thursday [April 30].
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Earlier this month, UEFA’s intention was to use the same cities but has yet to confirm schedules for matches.
Talks are ongoing with representatives of hosts Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg, led by Martin Kallen, CEO of UEFA Events.
‘These are still desperately uncertain times’
How leagues plan to restart the season remains the number one priority for UEFA. They don’t want seasons to have to end prematurely.
What UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has outlined in these latest guidelines is that leagues ‘should be in a position to communicate the planned restart of their domestic competitions, including the date and format by May 25.’
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That’s the same deadline that’s been given to those associations that want to end their seasons early, and in particular the Dutch FA. The reason why UEFA are so interested is because it directly impacts on their competitions – the Champions League and the Europa League next season.
The significance of the deadline is that it’s two days before UEFA’s next big meeting, and that’s when their top executives are going to reach some decision over whether this season’s Champions League and Europa League games can continue and be completed in August as they plan.
These are still desperately uncertain times, but UEFA is trying to bring clarity to its associations in what is still a very sad situation.
Project restart: What’s the state of play across Europe?
With football suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, what is the current situation around Europe’s top leagues?
England – Premier League
The Premier League will hold further talks this week, as it targets a return behind closed doors in June.
Scotland – Premiership
The SPFL board is due to meet on Monday afternoon for the first time since April 10, when all 42 SPFL clubs voted on proposals to conclude the season below the top division.
Italy – Serie A
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced professional sports teams can resume training on May 18 with Serie A potentially resuming in June.
Germany – Bundesliga
The Bundesliga is ready to return on May 9 if the German government gives it the green light, league officials have confirmed.
Netherlands – Eredivisie
The Dutch Eredivisie season has been ended with immediate effect, meaning league leaders Ajax have been denied the title. There will also be no promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie or relegation from the top flight, following an agreement reached over a video conference call between the Dutch FA (KNVB) and clubs.
Find out the full story across Europe here
PL targets behind-closed-doors return in June
The Premier League will hold further talks this week, as it targets a return behind closed doors in June – and it has the backing of the government, when it is safe to do so.
All 20 clubs will hold their latest conference call on Friday and talks will resume over whether games must return at approved stadiums or a neutral venue, such as St George’s Park.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said in the House of Commons on Monday: “I personally have been in talks with the Premier League, with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.
“But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”
Read the full story here
How many people are needed for a football match?
Sky Sports’ Gerard Brand…
‘The answer, as you’d expect, varies.
‘Some reports suggest a Premier League game needs anything between 250 and 500 personnel present, whereas lower down in the Football League there has been suggestions that anything between 100 and 180 are needed in a stadium.
‘As well as around 60-70 staff on the playing and officiating side, matchday and safety staff take up a large chunk, as well as at least 70 broadcast media for live televised games, 40 for non-live games, plus written press if deemed essential.
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