Uefa opens door to leagues being cancelled ‘in special cases’
PUBLISHED: 18:07 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 18:20 21 April 2020
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Uefa has opened the door to domestic league and cup competitions being cancelled “in special cases” due to the coronavirus pandemic, which could swiftly affect two of Norwich City’s players.
The national member associations of European football’s governing body gathered for a conference call on Tuesday for an update on “a variety of calendar options” to complete the 2019-20 season.
Uefa had previously warned that domestic leagues cancelling their seasons prematurely risked their clubs being excluded from its competitions in the future, but may now consider allowing curtailment of campaigns.
“There was a strong recommendation given to finish domestic top division and cup competitions, but some special cases will be heard once guidelines concerning participation to European competitions - in case of a cancelled league - have been developed,” a statement read.
Uefa said any decisions on those guidelines would be announced after Thursday’s meeting of its executive committee.
The Scottish Professional Football League board has the right to make a decision on bringing the Premiership season to an end but is expected to consult with clubs before going ahead.
However, this announcement from Uefa would appear to open the door to the Scottish 2019-20 top-flight campaign being brought to an early end, with the decision to end the Scottish Championship, League One and League Two having already been made.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also expressed concerns on Monday about the possibility of even staging behind-closed-doors matches because of social distancing rules.
The Belgian Pro League announced at the start of the month that it was cancelling its season, with Club Brugge declared champions. The decision is yet to be ratified however.
The announcement could affect two of Norwich City’s loan players quickly, with Akin Famewo in the Scottish Premiership with St Mirren and fellow defender Rocky Bushiri playing for Sint-Truidense in the Belgian top flight, both playing regularly prior to football’s shutdown.
Celtic are 13 points clear of nearest rivals Rangers with nine games to play in Scotland but St Mirren are ninth and only two points clear of the relegation places - but with reconstruction of the league system now being considered.
Sint-Truidense and Bushiri are 12th in the Belgian top flight and 13 points clear of trouble - but with just one game remaining, ahead of a play-off system with a Europa League qualification place up for grabs.
City also have players on loan at clubs in the second tiers of Germany, France, Holland and the USA, as well as players in the English lower leagues.
In England, Premier League clubs are still exploring scheduling models for how they could complete the season.
Failure to do so would prove very costly. It has been reported that Sky Sports would not seek a rebate in the event of a curtailed campaign, but that would still leave the clubs owing a collective £370million.
The scenarios presented to the associations were all understood to culminate in the Champions League and Europa League taking place in August, with the final of the Champions League believed to be pencilled in for August 29.
The format of the remainder of those competitions - for instance whether ties remain at two legs or drop to one - is entirely dependent on how much time is available for the matches to be played.