The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has said it intends to resume the suspended Süper Lig on the weekend of June 12-14, and host the 2020 Uefa Champions League final in Istanbul in August.
The top division of Turkish club football has been suspended since March 20 and had been one of the final major European leagues to shutdown amid Covid-19. TFF president Nihat Özdemir said he hopes to finish the season by July 26, with games played behind closed doors.
He said the Süper Lig schedule will comprise of seven weekend rounds and one weekday round, with teams to play matches in their own cities and stadia. Speaking in a teleconference, Özdemir said: “With this decision, we will apply to our Ministry of Health for the leagues to be played on the schedule we have determined. Our Ministry of Health will refer the matter to our Science Board, which has done valuable work so far.
“The Ministry of Health and the Scientific Committee will decide how, and under which conditions, the competitions will be played after their work together. In this process, we will inform all our clubs about the principles that will emerge at the end of the process, which includes the evaluations made by the Science Board together with our Health Board.”
The decision comes after Digiturk, the Turkish pay-television subsidiary of international broadcaster beIN Media Group, last month reportedly informed the TFF that it will be withholding payment for the rights to the Süper Lig.
Digiturk did not make a payment worth around $30m (€27.8m) and was said to have informed the TFF that it will not be making any further payments until the league season resumes. Digiturk has already paid 75 per cent of this season’s fees but still owes more than $100m in payments for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
The payment covers both the domestic rights held by Digiturk and the international rights which beIN exploits on its platforms or sells into markets where it is not present. The TFF’s announcement has not been backed by the Turkish government, with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca stating his ministry had no say in the federation’s decision to restart the league.
“The federation took the decision with its own initiative, therefore the responsibility falls on the federation,” Koca said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “Both the decision and the responsibility is theirs.”
This season’s Champions League final was due to have been played at Atatürk Olympic Stadium on May 30, but has been postponed on an indefinite basis by Uefa. European football’s governing body last month said it continues to consider a variety of options to resume its Champions League and Europa League competitions as it outlined guidelines on eligibility for clubs to participate in the 2020-21 editions.
Earlier in the month, Uefa was said to be considering a plan to stage the Champions League final on August 29 in Istanbul as part of a proposal that would also see the Europa League final be held three days earlier in Gdansk, Poland.
Özdemir added: “Hopefully we will complete our leagues in the best way at the end of July, we will present our trophies on the field and we will crown the season by hosting the Uefa Champions League final in our country in August.”