Associations warned not to end their leagues prematurely

Football associations and football leagues around Europe were warned not to end their domestic leagues prematurely as UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues expressed their determination to resume competitions in the months to come.

This was expressed in a letter, signed by the presidents of UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues which was sent out to their members.

The correspondence emerged just hours after the Belgian Pro League became the first major European competition to recommend ending its season with the current league positions being declared final. Club Bruges will be declared champions with the current league table set to stand. There was one match of the regular season remaining when the league was suspended, with play-offs due to decide the top positions.

The league’s board of directors made the decision and have made a recommendation to the general assembly which was due to be made official on 15 April with a working group to decide relegation and promotion issues.

In the letter sent on Thursday night, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, ECA chairman Andrea Angelli and EL president Lars-Christer Olsson stated “We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by the public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

“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 fullfilment of such condition. UEFA reserves the right to assess the entitlement of clubs to be admitted to the 2020/21 UEFA club competitions, in accordance with the relevant applicable competition regulations.”

Competitions right around Europe were put on hold last month, including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, as governments right across Europe imposed lockdowns and banned mass gatherings.

The Malta Football Association had had suspended football matches for ten days on March 12. This suspension was extended until April 5 a few days later until the Bureau decided to suspend competitions indefinitely last Monday.

On Wednesday, UEFA had decided to postpone all international matches scheduled for the first ten days of June, therefore making these days available for domestic competitions.

The presidents of UEFA, the ECA and EL added “The working groups (set-up by UEFA) have held several meetings and are in daily contact to ensure that the overriding objective of taking all competitions to their natural end is met. In order to achieve it, concrete plans are being drawn up. Their work is now focusing on scenarios encompassing the months of July and August, including the possibility that the UEFA competitions restart after the completion of domestic leagues.”

“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.”