The European campaigns of several English clubs have been thrown into chaos after the government confirmed a two-week quarantine will be imposed on UK arrivals.
The crackdown was announced in Friday’s daily press briefing, with those coming into the country set to undertake an isolation period of 14 days from June 8.
However, sports stars were not given an exemption from the rule – which has posed a logistics nightmare for British teams still in the Champions League and Europa League.
The authorities are said to be keen to keep any exemptions concerning international arrivals to a bare minimum – with foreign officials, hauliers and medical workers among those excused.
The measures are likely to make international travel to the UK all but impossible for foreign teams.
Real Madrid would be forced to remain in lockdown for a fortnight upon landing before being able to train and face Manchester City in the second leg of their last-16 clash.
Chelsea are also still to jet to Bavaria for their return leg with Bayern Munich – and would encounter a similar scenario when they return to England.
The return dates for the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League are yet to be confirmed, with the top flight’s Project Restart proposals continuing to be met with vocal opposition from a number of players.
But when the competition does eventually restart, the teams that will have to fly across the continent for European games are posed with a nightmare scenario.
For the next round of fixtures, Chelsea and Real Madrid may potentially have to miss out on two domestic matchweeks due to the quarantine period.
However, sports bosses appeared to have initially persuaded Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to appeal for an exemption for players.
Despite this, the minister was overruled by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office.
According to The Sun, a government source revealed that No 10 plan for the ‘regime to be robust’.
The restrictions were introduced to help prevent a second rise in coronavirus infections from travellers – and breaches may result in a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England, or prosecution with an unlimited fine.
City and Chelsea remain in the Champions League, although the latter appear set to crash out after suffering a heavy first-leg defeat against Bayern in February.
However, UEFA remaine hopeful of finishing the competition in just three months’ time despite the initial confusion posed by the lockdown.
The governing body may now have to seek out alternative arrangements to ensure that both ties are completed.
They will also have to consider the rest of Manchester United, Wolves and Rangers’ Europa League campaigns.
The Old Trafford outfit thumped LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Austria, but are yet to welcome their opponents for the second game at Old Trafford.
There has been no major sport held in the UK since mid-March, when the lockdown started to be enforced nationwide.
And in what appeared to be a much-needed boost to morale, senior Downing Street figures appeared to have agreed that sportsmen would not be expected to adhere to the protective travelling measures.
The Sun reported that the players would have undergone rigorous testing, and would have been expected to enter isolation immediately after a positive test.
But recent developments, including the reported government U-turn have raised further questions over the rest of the campaign.