LA LIGA AND SPAIN FA AT LOGGERHEADS

If the La Liga season is cut short or abandoned because of the coronavirus pandemic, the top four teams in the current standings will qualify for next season’s Champions League, the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) has said.

With all teams having played 27 rounds before play was halted on March 12 due to the outbreak, leaders and defending champions Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad will be the four clubs that will go through to Europe’s premier club competition if no more action is possible this season.

“The RFEF wants to have done its homework in case, in the event of a suspension of competitions, it receives the request from UEFAregarding the Spanish clubs that would have access to European competitions next season,” general secretary Andreu Camps said in a statement on Thursday night.

“Thus… it has been agreed in the RFEF delegate commission to make a plan in order to give certainty in an extreme scenario, such as not being able to finish the competitions, so that all the clubs know the new scenario they are facing.”

After the last round of games ended, Barcelona topped La Liga with 58 points, two ahead of rivals Madrid.

Sevilla are third on 47, with Real Sociedad, who have not played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign, a point further back in fourth.

The teams in fifth and sixth place – which are Getafe (46) and Atletico Madrid (45) – will qualify for the Europa League.

The result of the King’s Cup final, if that is contested, could have an impact on the team grabbing the final Europa League spot.

With finalists Sociedad already in the top four, their opponents Athletic Bilbao (10th) are in pole position for the third Europa League spot should the league not resume.

The suspended final had been set for today and would have been the first Cup final featuring the country’s two biggest Basque teams.

The RFEF’s decision remains a proposal that has not been approved by La Liga. League president Javier Tebas said in response: “Nulling and voiding the season is not an option on the table.

“We’re reviewing multiple scenarios, such as what happens if we play behind closed doors… and what happens if games aren’t played.

“We have to look at all possibilities, but we’re not working towards a situation where we don’t complete the season.”

Other clubs that stand to lose out the most have also voiced their unhappiness with the unilateral plan.

Atletico, who eliminated title-holders Liverpool to reach the last eight of the Champions League this term, told Spanish media such a scenario “would be unfair to them”.

It could force the club into selling at least one of their key assets such as the highly sought-after Saul Niguez, given that participation in the Champions League represents 15 per cent of the club’s budget.

Valencia, who are in seventh spot on 42 points, and Getafe also told Spanish daily Marca they were equally outraged.

But Sergio Busquets feels a premature conclusion may be something clubs have to come to terms with – as unpalatable as it might be.

“It’s going to be difficult to resume,” the Barca midfielder told local radio stations Onda Cero and Cope. “I don’t think it can be done. It’s going to be difficult to resume because of the travelling, getting everyone together.”

AFP, Reuters