UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has revealed he wants the Champions League and Europa League finished no later than August 3, in a sign that there is a cut off for domestic leagues to finish across Europe. Football in Europe is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is no clear return date with the uncertainty around the virus.
The Premier League announced earlier this week they were removing any suggested return date and will only return to action when it is safe to do so.
UEFA have also gone down that route after initially suggesting they wanted all competitions finished by June 30.
However Ceferin has now claimed he wants the European competitions finished by August 3, in what may appear as pressure to get the domestic leagues finished by then too.
“It must finish by August 3, both the Champions League and Europa League,” Ceferin told German broadcaster ZDF.
“It is an extraordinary situation we are in, so we are flexible on dates and kick-off times. If the crisis eases earlier, then we can start sooner.
“We could play with the current system, or in one-off matches played on neutral turf. For now, it’s just an option to play with a final eight or final four.
“The only wrong decision we could make now would be to play in a way that puts the health and safety of players, fans and referees at risk.
“However, if we are in secure conditions, then I don’t see the problem.”
The global pandemic has thrown the sporting world into crisis with most events originally scheduled for this summer all postponed or cancelled.
The Premier League are also at the centre of a wage cut war with pressure from the government to beef up contributions to the NHS.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has called on players to donate money and to take pay cuts to help the situation.
However the players are concerned that a payout will actually reduced the amount to tax they pay and would negatively impact the health service, and would only benefit the club owners.
The Premier League have committed to paying £20m, while Manchester United players have taken a 30% pay cut to provide money to Manchester hospitals and nurses.
UEFA’s latest message however could be seen as an issue with clubs concerned about when they will have to resume playing if the health problems remain.
In a letter UEFA sent out earlier this week they maintained the priority was to continue the leagues rather than cancelling them – like they’ve done in Belgium.
“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,” Ceferin, ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli and EL president Lars-Christer Olsson stated in a letter sent to leagues, clubs and national associations.
“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.
“It is of paramount importance that even a disruptive event like this epidemic does not prevent our competitions from being decided on the field, in accordance with their rules and that all sporting titles are awarded on the basis of results.”
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