Weekend Champions League games an option as Europe bids to end season in June
European soccer leagues have made a commitment to finishing their seasons by 30 June under agreements reached with Uefa as the calendar is restructured in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak.
Following video conference meetings with stakeholders yesterday, Uefa confirmed that, in an unprecedented step, this year’s European Championships were being postponed to next year, in part to enable national and continental club competitions in the 2019-20 season to be concluded.
In a subsequent Uefa statement, it was announced that there was a commitment to finishing club competitions by the end of June, a month later than originally scheduled, albeit this would appear to be dependent on the virus emergency having diminished.
If this is the case then the finals of the Europa League and Champions League, originally earmarked for Gdansk in Poland on 27 May and Istanbul in Turkey on 30 May respectively, would take place in the last week of June. Both competitions have been suspended part-way through the round-of-16 stage.
It is envisaged that extra domestic league games could be played in midweek slots and European club competition matches at weekends in order to complete the seasons on time.
However, the tentative timetable could prove to be optimistic if, as appears likely, the current situation escalates.
A large majority of domestic leagues across Europe have now been suspended (the Russian Premier League joined the list yesterday) amid the pandemic, which has resulted in travel and social distancing restrictions, and even lockdowns, across the continent.
Yesterday evening’s statement laid out: “A commitment to complete all domestic and European club competitions by the end of the current sporting season, i.e. 30 June 2020 at the latest, should the situation improve and resuming playing be appropriate and prudent enough.”
It also alluded to: “Possible limitations or drops of current exclusive calendar slots, potentially resulting in the scheduling of domestic league matches in mid-week and scheduling of Uefa club competition matches on weekends.”
Uefa is establishing two working groups, one comprising officials from the governing body, leagues and clubs to consider calendar matters and solutions relating to the coronavirus outbreak, and the other made up of representatives of Uefa, leagues, clubs and players to assess the economic, financial and regulatory impact.
The calendar committee includes one representative from each of Spain’s LaLiga (president Javier Tebas), England’s Premier League, and the European Leagues body, plus three from Uefa and three from the European Club Association.
As a result of the shifting of Euro 2020, which was due to take place in 12 different countries, the Women's Euro 2021 in England is set to be postponed until the following year, while Fifa is looking at moving its relaunched men's Club World Cup in China from next summer to later in 2021 or to 2022 or 2023.
Conmebol has already announced that this year's Copa America in Argentina and Colombia has been rescheduled to 2021.
Elsewhere, the Asian Football Confederation has announced that all matches in the AFC Cup, its second-tier clubs competition, have been postponed until further notice because of the spread of coronavirus.
The AFC had already postponed matches in the West Asia Zone, but has now expanded the move across the continent in the wake of preventitive measures and travel restrictions imposed by several governments.