UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin: "This is a huge and positive step to bringing optimism back to people's lives"; leaders Bayern Munich four points clear of Borussia Dortmund with nine matchweeks to go
Friday 8 May 2020 08:27, UK
The Bundesliga season will restart on May 16, the German football league has confirmed, after the government gave the green light on a return to action.
The government said the Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga could restart in the second half of May without spectators, adding the German football league (DFL) would decide on the exact dates.
Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert has said the top-tier season will finish on June 27, with the second division campaign concluding on June 28. Fans will not be allowed to gather outside stadiums, he added.
There will be two weeks in which midweek games are played to allow Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt to fulfil their game in hand.
League organisers are currently considering allowing teams to use five substitutes during the remaining fixtures.
Football in Germany has been suspended since mid-March, with coronavirus having infected over 150,000 people in the country so far. Almost 6,300 people have died of the disease in Germany.
The league is the first of any of Europe's major leagues to be given clearance to resume playing, since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Two of Germany's neighbours, the Netherlands and France, have ended their seasons.
Matches in Germany's top two divisions can take place later this month, without spectators.
Chancellor Angela Merkel says Bundesliga players and staff will not have to quarantine for 14 days because of the clubs' regular testing capacity.
"Testing is regular there, so the quarantine period is not set to 14 days," she said.
Minister President of Bavaria, Markus Soder, accepts the decision to resume will be seen as controversial.
"We have agreed sensibly. We know that it is very controversial," he added.
"I know that those responsible in the clubs will do everything possible to comply with the regulations. But the players must also adhere to it."
The Bundesliga's General Assembly will be held in Frankfurt on Thursday to discuss the health and safety protocol to ensure the league's safe return. They are expected to decide on the start date and match calendar in that meeting.
The majority of Bundesliga clubs have nine matches left to play in this campaign - Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen have 10 - with leaders Bayern Munich four points ahead of Borussia Dortmund in second.
The league's potential return had been under scrutiny after Cologne reported three people at the club had tested positive for coronavirus last week and Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou was suspended after ignoring social distancing measures at the club's training ground.
Former Chelsea player Kalou, 34, was seen shaking hands with his Hertha team-mates and interrupting a medical check-up of another.
Soder described the incident as an "own goal", saying: "The video by the Hertha BSC player there was already an own goal. The players have to stick to the requirements just like other citizens!"
On Monday, the German Football League (DFL) announced a total of 1,724 tests have been conducted on players and staff at the 36 first and second-tier sides in Germany since last Thursday, with 10 individuals returning positive coronavirus tests.
Following another round of testing, second division side Erzgebirge Aue has put its entire squad in self isolation after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.
Aue have not named the staff member involved but all players, coaches and backroom staff will stay at home ahead of more coronavirus testing on Thursday.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has welcomed the decision of German authorities to allow domestic football to return.
"It is great news that the German authorities have agreed that the Bundesliga can return," he said.
"This is a huge and positive step to bringing optimism back to people's lives. It is the result of constructive dialogue and careful planning between the football authorities and politicians and I am confident that Germany will provide a shining example to all of us in how to bring football - with all its excitement, emotion and unpredictability - back into our lives.
"I wish everyone connected with this every success."
The resumption of the Bundesliga season will make weekends "easier for everyone" in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic, says Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"FC Bayern feels great gratitude, satisfaction and a feeling of happiness. We've worked long and hard for this. With the green light from the politicians, we have the requirements to restart the league. That is an important step for the Bundesliga," he said.
"The Bavarian prime minister Markus Söder said that a weekend with Bundesliga is much more bearable than a weekend without. That sentence tells everything.
"We know, football isn't systemically important. But football has a meaning for society. When we start playing in the middle of May, those weekends will be easier for everyone."
The Bundesliga has got the green light to resume and this is a "significant week for the future of football" in England, according to a panel on Sky Sports' latest podcast.
In an in-depth preview, Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson and reporter Kaveh Solhekol explain where Project Restart - the plan to resume football in England - is up to, what needs to happen before football can return and the hurdles which must still be overcome.
Read an edited version of their explainer or listen to their analysis in full on a special Sky Sports Football podcast.