UEFA chairman Aleksander Ceferin believes most European leagues can finish the season despite the ongoing threat of coronavirus.
UEFA has a plan in place to end the 2019/20 campaign with the final of the Champions League at the end of August and Ceferin believes that will be possible.
“We have a concrete plan to finish the season in Europe,” he told. “Of course, we’ll have to play at the stadiums this summer without the spectators.
“I think the season will be over by the majority of leagues. Those that won’t, that’s their decision. But if they want to take part in the European UEFA competition they will still have to play qualifiers.”
As such, France and the Netherlands are the two major leagues that chose to cancel their seasons.
“I can say that, if everything is as it is now, the European season will be over in August. As things look now, I’m sure … that we can finish the European season and that means UEFA competition,” he adds. “The national leagues are a separate thing and they’ll decide separately how they want to proceed, but I think the season will end at least 80 per cent.”
Indeed, La Liga will intensify its preparations for a return to action, with group training allowing up to 10 players from Monday.
Barcelona said in a statement: “The clubs in La Liga will enter phase three of training from Monday 18 May. In this phase training sessions of up to 10 players are allowed as La Liga has informed the club.
“The first team players will return to training at the Joan Gamper Ciutat Esportiva on Monday at 9.30am CEST, with the option of group training.
“The players have worked out individually in endurance and precision sessions during the first week of training.”
Ceferin also hailed the German League and Government for the resumption of their organization of the Bundesliga. The German Bundesliga is the first major league to resume after the coronavirus pandemic while plans for June resumptions in Spain, Italy and England are underway.
“We trust Germans, they have very serious authorities … it’s not just about football,” Ceferin said. “It’s about people being depressed because we’re locked in, because there’s so much uncertainty, and football is bringing life to a normal level. Soccer brings positive energy. If you can watch sports it’s easier to be home! That’s how I think it’s a great [example] cooperation between the German League and the German government. I hope they’ll be very successful, and think so.”
Play in Germany began behind closed doors on Saturday and appears to be a success.
Contrary to Ceferin’s opinion, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce says players in the Premier League wouldn’t be ready to resume the season until the end of June, insisting that an earlier start would see them fall like a pack of cards.
A June 19th date has been mooted, but Bruce says players will not fit until the end of the month anyway, having been inactive since mid-March.
Provisional plans for the restart of the project were for a resumption on June 12, although this schedule hit a stumbling block with disagreements about playing in neutral venues and concerns about player safety.
“We’ve listened to what’s been said and we’re going to get back to work with the precautions taken, and start phase one,” Bruce said in the Sunday Telegraph. “Can we get to that stage where all of the players can be on the pitch together? We don’t know yet.”
He went on: “Phase one is mainly about fitness work, with four or five players on a pitch. Let’s see how we get on with it.
“You have to remember they’ve had eight weeks off and that’s probably the longest break some of these players’ careers have ever had.
“If we were pre-seasoning, we ‘d have six weeks and possibly six friendly games to get them ready for the first league game.
“So, here we need a good span of time to get them ready. That is vitally important, certainly once we get into stage two. We need sufficient preparation to get these players into shape or they will just fall down like a pack of cards.
“Most managers have the same concerns. It would take us at least six weeks. I don’t see how we can play games until the June back.”