EUROPEAN FINALS PUT OFF BY UEFA

This season’s Champions League, Europa League and women’s Champions League finals that were originally scheduled for May have been formally postponed because of the global coronavirus pandemic, UEFA have said. 

Moreover, unplayed Champions League ties could be reduced to one-leg affairs for the champagne to be concluded.

All three competitions are currently suspended along with all major European domestic leagues, including the big five of England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

European football’s governing body UEFA last week postponed the Euro 2020 tournament until next year.

“No decision has been taken on rearranged dates,” UEFA said in a statement.

It also did not say whether it would be able to complete the competitions in the current format or would have to shorten them. The Champions League was halted halfway through the return legs of the round of 16 with four ties still to be decided.

The final was due to take place in Istanbul on May 30.

UEFA has formed a working group to decide how best to proceed with the competitions and discussions are under way over the rescheduling of fixtures.

Several media reports have suggested Champions League ties could be reduced to one leg instead of two from the quarter-finals with a “final four” mini tournament to decide the winner.

There are, however, a myriad of issues that need to be addressed.

UEFA faces a challenge to hold one-legged ties at neutral venues, which are yet to be found, while there are worldwide travel restrictions in place.

Clubs also have to accept a loss in revenue if games are reduced and broadcasters must agree to air fewer live games than contractually stated.

In the Europa League, whose final was due to be held in Gdansk, Poland, on May 27, two of the last-16 first legs have yet to be played, as well as all of the second legs.

According to the BBC, it has already been agreed that European games can be played on a weekend – they are traditionally held in midweek – and it is also understood there is no longer any requirement for the Champions League to be the last club match of the campaign.

That raises the possibility of the qualifying rounds for the 2020-21 edition starting before the European domestic leagues have concluded.

The epicentre of the contagion has shifted from China to Europe, with the continent seeing over 200,000 infections and more than 10,000 deaths.

REUTERS