What to expect from European football’s coronavirus crisis meeting

National associations will be updated on information gathered by two working groups.

By Press Association Published: 31 March 2020 - 12.39pm

The 55 member associations of European football’s governing body UEFA have been invited to join a conference call on Wednesday for an update on plans being drawn up to manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what is under consideration.

Finishing the season

Getting the 2019-20 season completed remains the firm commitment of associations across the continent, despite the situation worsening since the last UEFA meeting on March 17 when a working group was set up to look at the fixture calendar.

When are they looking to finish?

Supporters watch a match between Energetik BGU and BATE in Minsk on March 19
Supporters watch a match between Energetik BGU and BATE in Minsk on March 19 (Sergei Grits/AP)

Leagues across Europe – with the notable exception of Belarus – are in shutdown and in many cases competitions have not fixed a return date.

Those leagues which traditionally finish in May are understood to be working to create the conditions to enable play into July and even August if necessary. In England, the Football Association has relaxed its regulations to allow the 2019-20 season to continue beyond June 1.

There was an initial commitment after the March 17 meeting to wrap up the season by June 30, but it is widely accepted now that this will not be possible and the European club finals have all been postponed indefinitely.

How will the Champions League and Europa League be finished?

As things stand, with great difficulty with huge restrictions on overseas travel. No ideas were off the table when UEFA’s last meeting took place, and one-legged ties from the quarter-finals onwards could be one solution.

What about the 2020-21 season?

A late finish to the current season, coupled with a fixed new start date for the delayed Euro 2020 finals, would suggest ways need to be found to curtail the 2020-21 campaign.

But it is understood there are no plans as it stands to reduce the calendar, but instead to squeeze it. This may mean looking at, among other things, shortened winter breaks.

What else might the associations be told?

Chief executive Mark Bullingham will represent the FA on the UEFA conference call
Chief executive Mark Bullingham will represent the FA on the UEFA conference call (Handout/FA)

A second working group has been looking at the economic and regulatory impact of the pandemic, and as part of that player contracts, which run until June 30, are being examined, in conjunction with similar work being done under the auspices of world governing body FIFA.

It is understood a dispensation could be made that these run until the natural end of the season, as this is the intention of the June 30 date in normal circumstances. But crucially there will need to be agreement that clubs will have to extend deals for all players beyond June 30, not just those they wish to retain.

Transfer windows have also been under discussion among the second UEFA group. The timing and duration of the windows are a matter for each individual national association, but UEFA members may seek some form of alignment and uniformity.