EHF releases initial plan for matches to resume in early June
The European Handball Federation has revealed a plan for the resumption of top-tier handball on the continent after the coronavirus pandemic passes, which would feature matches resuming during the first week of June, and no earlier.
All matches organised by the EHF, for both national and club-based competitions, scheduled to take place during April and May would be postponed under the plan, which at this point is still theoretical.
An overview of the plan, which is reliant on the threat from the virus diminishing over the coming weeks and months, was presented to, and approved by, the EHF’s executive committee earlier this week, in a conference call.
A mandate has therefore now been secured for the plan’s adoption regarding the 2019-20 season, while the overview also states that “following the development of the international sports scene, eg the Olympic Games and corresponding qualifications, the 2020-21 calendar may also be adapted.”
As well as proposing that no matches take place before early June, the plan calls for the EHF’s Final4 competitions, and the men’s EHF Cup finals, to be rescheduled from their current dates to points in August and September.
The women’s EHF Final 4 will be moved from 9 and 10 May to 5 and 6 September, while the men’s version will take place on 22 and 23 August, as opposed to its original dates of 30 and 31 May
The EHF Cup Finals meanwhile will be moved from 23 and 24 May to 29 and 30 August.
The men’s EHF Euro 2020 national competition meanwhile, set for 2 to 12 July across Austria and Italy, will instead be held between 13 and 23 August.
For every event rescheduled by the EHF, the plan also includes a latest date on which the event could be cancelled.
The plan also states that if future matches or rounds are cancelled or cannot be played, results from previously-completed rounds will be used to determine which team progresses through.
Michael Wiederer, the EHF’s president, said: “There are currently much more important things to focus on than to discuss possibilities for handball matches. However, there are good reasons to develop alternative scenarios, which is what we have been working on.”
He added: “The EHF will be flexible and ready to adapt if necessary… We are fully aware that the implementation of this scenario depends on the development of the situation around the coronavirus and related governmental decisions.”
“By no means does the EHF wish to give the impression that it wants to push through a competition schedule.”
The EHF is currently preparing to enter a new commercial and broadcast contract with Infront, its long-term agency partner, and DAZN, the international over-the-top platform.
The EHF Euros in January was the last men's tournament under the EHF's old contract with Infront, with the agency to share all media and sponsorship rights with DAZN between 2022 and 2030 for national team competitions, and 2020 to 2030 for club competitions.
The deal between the three parties, signed originally in 2018, is worth up to $660 million, and has already resulted in the decision being taken to expand both the men's and women's EHF Euro tournaments to 24 teams.