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Bundesliga cleared to restart season on May 16 after government approval

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

Image: The majority of Bundesliga teams have nine matches left to play this season

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.

Jadon Sancho in action for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich earlier this season

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.

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Matches in Germany's top two divisions can take place later this month, without spectators.

Bundesliga clubs have been back in training since April 7
Image: Bundesliga clubs have been back in training since April 7

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.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirms the Bundesliga can resume playing this month, ending a two-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic

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.

FC Koln or Cologne badge
Image: Cologne reported three people at the club tested positive for coronavirus last week but training continued

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!"

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Sky's Geraint Hughes has the latest details as the German football league confirms the Bundesliga season will restart on May 16

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.

Ceferin: A huge and positive step

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."

Bayern CEO: Football will help Germany cope

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."

Project restart: What's happening across Europe?

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Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were among the Barcelona players returning to the club's facilities to undergo medical tests
  • England - Premier League: The Premier League is targeting a return to training in small groups from May 18, though hurdles remain after several doctors expressed reservations. 'Project Restart' plans will be discussed at the league's next shareholders meeting on Monday May 11, a day after the UK government gives an update on lockdown restrictions.
  • England - EFL: The English Football League (EFL) has warned football cannot resume before adequate testing arrangements are in place for coronavirus.
  • England - Non-League: National League clubs have voted in favour of ending the 2019/20 at its current point and cancelling all remaining fixtures.
  • Scotland - Premiership: The Scottish government warned on May 5 that the return of sport is some distance away, with football representatives citing September as the most ambitious target. Clubs recently voted to end the lower leagues and hand the SPFL the power to call time on the top flight but discussions continue.
  • France - Ligue 1: PSG have been crowned champions after it was announced on April 30 that the season was over - but Lyon have raised the possibility of claiming damages after missing out on European qualification.
  • Italy - Serie A: The Italian government has given the green light for Serie A players to resume individual training at their club's training grounds with group sessions set to be allowed from May 18. The 20 Serie A clubs reiterated on May 1 in their general assembly meeting that there is a "unanimous will to finish the season" although the government will make a final decision.
  • Spain - La Liga: Professional football players in Spain can return to their training camps for individual sessions on May 4, while teams will be able to undergo group sessions from May 11 onwards. The Spanish league has confirmed a return to competition has been scheduled for June.

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La Liga's UK and Ireland delegate Keegan Pierce says the organisation is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of the players as they return to training grounds for coronavirus tests

Premier League restart: A key week ahead

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.

Download the Sky Sports Football podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

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