Uefa has announced the postponement of all European club football fixtures scheduled for next week due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The affected fixtures include all remaining Uefa Champions League and Europa League round of 16 ties and all Uefa Youth League matches that were scheduled for March 17, 18 and 19.
As a consequence, the draws for the next rounds of the competitions, which were supposed to take place on March 19, have also been postponed.
The governing body has said that further discussions will take place in the coming days over when the games could eventually be played, but the crisis looks set to claim further fixtures and it is unlikely that a revised calendar will be forthcoming. With quarter-final fixtures set to begin on April 7, further delays and postponements appear more likely.
Elsewhere in Europe, the German Football League (DFL) has announced that this weekend’s fixtures will go ahead behind closed doors where possible, before a full suspension of the league beginning next Tuesday (March 17). At present, the DFL has said it expects fixtures to resume on April 3, although the situation will be continually reassessed over the coming weeks.
As it stands, the Bundesliga 2 clash between Hannover 96 and Dynamo Dresden is the only game from this weekend’s round to be cancelled, as two Hannover players have tested positive for coronavirus.
France has also moved to suspend all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 fixtures with immediate affect and “until further notice”, according to a statement from the French Football League (LFP). The LFP’s board of directors has said it will convene on March 17, after a meeting scheduled by Uefa, to discuss how to deal with the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign.
That meeting will see representatives from Uefa’s 55 member associations, the European Club Association, European Leagues and a representative from FIFPro come together in a videoconference to discuss the future of this season’s football calendar, with a particular eye on the 2020 European Championship.
That event – a pan-continental tournament taking place in 11 different countries – would appear increasingly untenable in the current environment. One possible solution proposed has been to postpone the Euros until the summer of 2021, freeing up the summer months of this year to conclude the Europa League and Champions League. Uefa will also almost certainly need to reschedule the play-offs matches that will decide the remaining four team spots at the Euros, which had been scheduled to begin on March 26.