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Uefa targets European football extension into July and August

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool misses a chance during the Premier League match against Bournemouth (by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Uefa, the European Club Association, and leagues umbrella group European Leagues sent a joint letter to their members yesterday, saying that halting competitions should be a last resort and that work was being done to extend the 2019-20 season beyond the official June 30 deadline.

Reuters reported that the letter was sent hours after the Belgian league abandoned its season and proclaimed Club Brugge champions. The letter said: “Only an extraordinary coordinated effort of all competition organisers can help European football out of the crisis, recovering in full its core asset, the competitions.

“Stopping competitions should really be the last resort after acknowledging that no calendar alternative would allow to conclude the season.

“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.”

The letter added that two working groups set up by Uefa are “focusing on scenarios encompassing the months of July and August, including the possibility that the Uefa competitions restart after the completion of domestic leagues.”

It also threatened that leagues that ended their seasons early may not have their champions involved in European competition next season.

“Since participation in Uefa club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition,” it said. It added that Uefa reserves the right to “assess the entitlement of clubs” to take part in the Champions League and Europa League.

China idea

In England, the Premier League is scheduled for a video conference with executives from its 20 clubs to salvage the season. Sports media service The Athletic reported that one club has suggested completing the season in China.

The idea is reported to be based on China’s success in clamping down on the spread of Covid-19 and its football infrastructure.

Other clubs are opposed to the idea, with one chief executive telling The Athletic: “The country that keeps getting proposed is China. It just doesn’t make any sense. It is a crazy idea and I think it will get firmly rejected.

“If we were to pick up the Premier League and move it to another part of world right now we’d get absolutely slaughtered.

“Somebody accused us the other day of being in a bubble. I feel a little bit like they are right at the moment – even though I am not, I can see why people think we are.”

Another Premier League club director said: “It’s just a waste of energy. Let’s just say we all want to start the league and life. Unfortunately only God and the pandemic can make this decision. And it does not look likely.”

Infantino positive

In a statement yesterday, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said football would be changed in a positive way in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Speaking to ANSA, he said: “Football will come back, and when it does, we’ll celebrate coming out of a nightmare together.

“There is one lesson, however, that both you and me must have understood: the football that will come after the virus will be totally different…(more) inclusive, more social and more supportive, connected to the individual countries and at the same time more global, less arrogant and more welcoming.”

“We will be better, more human and more attentive to true values.”