"We are confident that football can restart in the months to come - with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities"
Friday 3 April 2020 11:07, UK
European leagues have been urged not to "abandon" their seasons, after officials revealed they are working towards plans to resume games from July.
UEFA, the European Club Association [ECA] and European Leagues [EL] have written to all 55 member associations, including clubs and leagues, and called on them to "walk united" as they tackle growing issues from the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter, seen by Sky Sports News, has made it clear that associations should continue to work towards a resumption of their seasons, when it is safe to do so.
"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," it states.
"As responsible leaders in our sport, this is what we must ensure, until the last possibility exists and whilst planning, operational and regulatory solutions are available.
"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."
UEFA chaired a conference call with every member association on Wednesday.
No association raised the issue of cancelling the current season but, since the meeting, the board of directors at Belgium's Jupiler Pro League have recommended their season should end, with some clubs in the Netherlands also calling for a premature end to their season.
Officials are working towards scenarios which extend beyond the current preferred deadline of June 30.
"The working groups have held several meetings and are in daily contact to ensure that the overriding objective of taking all competitions to their natural end is met. In order to achieve it, concrete plans are being drawn up," adds the letter.
"Their work is now focusing on scenarios encompassing the months of July and August, including the possibility that the UEFA competitions restart after the completion of domestic leagues. 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. Stopping competitions should really be the last resort after acknowledging that no calendar alternative would allow to conclude the season."
Cancelling leagues without approval from UEFA could see teams prevented from qualifying for the Champions and Europa Leagues as they are determined by final positions in domestic standings.
"Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfillment of such condition," the letter says.
"UEFA reserves the right to assess the entitlement of clubs to be admitted to the 2020/21 UEFA club competitions, in accordance with the relevant applicable competition regulations. We know how much you share with us the core values of our sport and feel your support in our mission to protect the integrity of its competitions."
The letter, signed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli and EL president Lars-Christer Olsson, acknowledges that public health remains the top priority.
"The current health crisis caused by the spread of Covid-19 has no precedents in our society and, on top of the threat posed to public health, which is the uncontested number one priority, it has dramatically hit all industries and economic sectors," it notes.
"We walk united in the awareness that only an extraordinary coordinated effort of all competition organisers can help European football out of the crisis, recovering in full its core asset, the competitions. With no unity and no solidarity, nobody will be able to get out of the crisis as we are all interdependent."