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Coronavirus: European football planning on resuming in May, says La Liga chief Javier Tebas

Tebas: “In mid-May we should be able to be back on with all European competitions. Of course, it depends on how the pandemic evolves… It could even be before then.”
Lionel Messi's winner moved Barcelona top of La Liga
Lionel Messi’s winner moved Barcelona top of La Liga.

 

Europe’s top football leagues are planning to restart in May and should be able to finish their seasons by June 30, claims La Liga president Javier Tebas.

European football has been put on hold as the continent deals with the coronavirus pandemic, with the FA announcing this week that the season will not resume until April 30 “at the earliest”.

UEFA has established a core committee including Tebas, the Premier League and the European Club Association tasked with drafting a calendar structure for continental leagues to follow when the football season will be able to resume.

“In mid-May we should be able to be back on with all European competitions,” Tebas told Marca. “All of them. Of course, it depends on how the pandemic evolves.

“It could be before, but that is the date we’ve got in mind about being able to resume.”

In a separate interview with Spanish daily El Pais, asked whether it is viable to finish all leagues by June 30, Tebas said: “Yes. UEFA’s decision to postpone the Euros has been quite useful to try and bring the leagues to an end, but we were making plans on the football calendar even before the postponement of the Euros.

“It was a scenario that we knew could have materialised and we are working on different starting dates. Here we have to work the other way around, thinking about what could be the latest finish date to see the other dates that can come up.

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“The fundamental scenario is that half or late May is the maximum date for restarting the league so they are able to complete the season on June 30. The other scenarios can go further down [the calendar].

“The scenario can also depend on whether there will be some play-off rounds that could be set up or some Champions League games to be played on the weekend.

Javier Tebas has been tasked by UEFA with drafting a calendar structure for when European leagues will be allowed to resume their seasons

Javier Tebas has been tasked by UEFA with drafting a calendar structure for when European leagues will be allowed to resume their seasons

 

“When we will start to play again there will be all the medical guarantees, but that will not depend on us, it will depend on each country’s government. If they can guarantee that it is safe to play, we will play. If not, we won’t.

“You have to keep in mind we are working with 30 different leagues and it will depend on the health authorities if we will be able to play with open doors, closed doors or other conditions.

“We’re not planning on any format change on any competition, including the European ones. The mandate we have in the committee is to finish the competitions as they are right now. The calendar we are working on is with the competitions in full and in their regular format.”

With the progress of the coronavirus pandemic remaining unclear, the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters has been made the top priority.

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However, should the situation not improve Tebas says it will leave European chiefs with a headache as to how decisions will be made on various issues such as what teams will be awarded league titles, European places, relegations, promotions and also the potential impact of player contracts expiring on June 30.

“I don’t know, or better, I don’t want to know,” he said. “I don’t want to enter this debate because it doesn’t mean anything now. The only mission that keeps me busy day and night is to make sure competitions can be finished.

“For now, we are planning on competitions to end on June 30th, most importantly the domestic ones. When we’ll be done with it we will make a plan if we will need to extend the season [past June 30th], but it must not be forgotten that the contract binding players to clubs is individual.

“If it will be necessary, the moment will come, but why open this discussion when it’s not necessary? There could be many circumstances on which I can’t spend a minute of my time today.”

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