UEFA president sets Champions League deadline as coronavirus crisis continues



Posted Sunday, April 05, 2020 by Goal.com

UEFA president sets Champions League deadline as coronavirus crisis continues

The head of the governing body has a specific date in mind for when both European competitions must be completed

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin confirmed August 3 as the latest possible date for the 2019-20 Champions League final.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a prolonged hiatus for sport in almost every country, with the European football system impacted on an unprecedented scale.

Many of the top leagues have been suspended indefinitely and the pause forced UEFA to postpone Euro 2020 by 12 months, buying the club season a little more time.

The target is still for the 2019-20 campaign to be concluded by the end of June, but many doubt that is realistic, giving rise to debates about what will happen if the pandemic fails to ease.

Ceferin has at least attempted to offer clarity for the Champions League and Europa League campaigns, with cancellation seemingly on the cards if the competitions cannot be concluded by the start of August.

The UEFA president also indicated potential alterations to the knockout stages are under consideration.

"It must finish by August 3, both the Champions League and Europa League," Ceferin told German broadcaster ZDF.

"It is an extraordinary situation we are in, so we are flexible on dates and kick-off times. If the crisis eases earlier, then we can start sooner.

"We could play with the current system, or in one-off matches played on neutral turf. For now, it's just an option to play with a final eight or final four.

"The only wrong decision we could make now would be to play in a way that puts the health and safety of players, fans and referees at risk.

"However, if we are in secure conditions, then I don't see the problem."

In a letter to clubs across Europe this week, UEFA stressed that domestic competitions shouldn't be abandoned just yet.

"We are confident that football can restart in the months to come — with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities — and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli and EL president Lars-Christer Olsson stated in a letter sent to leagues, clubs and national associations.

"A joint management of calendars is strictly required as the conclusion of the current season must be coordinated with the start of the new one, which may be partly impacted because of the overstretch.

"Closely following the development of the current situation, the calendar working group will indicate as soon as possible, and ideally by mid-May, which of the plans can be enacted for the completion of the season without leaving anyone behind.

"It is of paramount importance that even a disruptive event like this epidemic does not prevent our competitions from being decided on the field, in accordance with their rules and that all sporting titles are awarded on the basis of results."



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