Covid-19, the global pandemic that has gripped our world, put a halt on Europe’s biggest football leagues since March 2020. Matches were played behind closed doors in an attempt to slow down the virus among spectators. As we all know, the pandemic worsened and all matches were eventually cancelled until further notice. The big question remains: When will the top football leagues return? After 2 months, the Bundesliga is the first of Europe’s top 5 leagues to resume league matches in an attempt to complete the 19/20 football season. On the other hand, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe banned all team sports until September, ending the Ligue 1 season prematurely.
When will Europe’s top leagues return from coronavirus?
Over the last few weeks, as clubs returned to training, millions of football fans around the world have been asking what is the status of Europe’s major leagues? Europe’s top football leagues are generally planning to resume matches in mid-June with the completion of all remaining league matches a critical factor. Undoubtedly, player safety from the coronavirus remains the highest priority across all the leagues.
English Premier League
The English Premier League has had updates from the recent meeting involving all 20 clubs. Project Restart initially stated June 12th as the date planned for the Premier League’s return. However, this date has been pushed back by a week or two. Nonetheless, these dates are unconfirmed and remains a target for Project Restart. EPL clubs returned to training this week (19 May),drawing mixed reactions from the public as well as the players. Clubs have implemented strict distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety of all the players and staff. Project Restart stresses that the safety of everyone involved in this resumption is of utmost priority. A statement released from the Premier shareholders’ meeting on 18 May 2020 stated that “strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible.
There have been mixed reactions to the Premier League resuming training and attempting to speed up the return of matches. The UK government has been criticised for attempting to speed up the return of the Premier League while the rest of the UK still grapples with the pandemic. Over 34 000 people have died in the UK from the novel Coronavirus; the highest death toll in Europe at the moment. Players like Watford’s Troy Deeney have refused to return to training, insisting that he will not take the risk of bringing danger to his family. On the other hand, cancelling the Premier League or not finishing all 92 remaining matches could result in a loss of up to £1 billion, devastating the football industry. The financial and economic repercussions have been a strong motivation for the Premier League to resume as soon as possible. The English Premier League is very likely to resume on either 19th June or 26th June with almost no chance of a full cancellation.
Italy’s Serie A
Like the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A looks to resume matches behind closed doors in June. Group training was officially resumed on May 18th with players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, reportedly happy to be back. The Serie A looks set to return on 13th June. Italy’s Olympic Committee Chief, Giovanni Malago, is 99% sure of matches resuming on 13th June as clubs voted for matches to resume on that date. Italy’s new Coronavirus cases have been dropping drastically since its worst periods in March and April. Although it’s a good sign that it is safe to resume matches soon, high profile players such as Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala were tested positive for the virus in March, increasing concerns over player safety. Nonetheless, the Serie A looks set to resume with many health protocols in place. Confirmation on that date will be decided at a crunch meeting held on 28th May by Italy’s sports minister, Vincenzo Spadafora.
When will the La Liga return? Spain’s top flight aims for a return on June 12th as group training resumed on the 18th of May for all the clubs in Spain’s top two divisions. Similar to the rest of Europe’s top leagues, La Liga President Javier Tebas warned that clubs could lose up to 1 billion Euros if the season is not completed. With measures in place to protect players from the virus, such as a maximum of 10 players at each group training, the La Liga is moving closer to resuming its remaining matches. As Spain begins opening its economy, the La Liga is expected to play a key role in Spain’s economic recovery. Despite fears in April that the La Liga would take longer to resume compared to the Serie A and Bundesliga, the recent decision to resume group training is a positive sign that the league could resume in June, along with the EPL and Serie A.
Portugal’s Primeira Liga
Portugal’s Primeira Liga is set to resume on June 4th after confirmation from the Portuguese government. After Prime Minister Antonio Costa gave the green light for the league to resume on 30th May, Primeira Liga has confirmed 4th June as the 1st game of the restart. Similar to Europe’s other top leagues, Primeira Liga will take the necessary precautions and safety protocols to ensure player safety.
When will the top football leagues return?
The English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Primeira Liga. 4 of Europe’s biggest leagues are highly poised for a return in mid-June, albeit behind closed doors. It is highly unlikely for any complete cancellations of all the remaining matches due to the financial strain from commercial deals and television rights. Furthermore, the complete cancellation of the Ligue 1 in France drew a fair share of negative response as the final results were calculated based on the clubs’ average points per match. As clubs across the top leagues fight for the title, Champions League spots and against relegation, many find the notion of such calculations inaccurate and could end up costing clubs huge losses. With much reason to resume the leagues, these 4 leagues could learn from the German Bundesliga which resumed matches on May 16. The upcoming weeks will see both effective protocols and mistakes made by the Bundesliga, useful for the resumption of the other top European leagues. When will the top football leagues return? The next 2 weeks are crucial in determining if indeed these 4 leagues will resume on their expected dates in June.
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