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Liverpool are 2019 champions.
Liverpool are 2019 champions.
Image: Mike Egerton

Uefa chief hopes Champions League will finish by 'end of August'

Meanwhile, the Serie A season finish has been pushed back to 20 August – with the new campaign to begin on 1 September.
May 20th 2020, 7:22 PM 2,647 3

UEFA PRESIDENT ALEKSANDER Ceferin is aiming to finish this year’s Champions League by the end of August as football in Europe slowly starts to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our plan is to finish it between now and the end of August,” Ceferin said in an interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, published on Wednesday.

“I think that will work. You never know what’s going to happen but things seem to be calming down.

“80% of European leagues are going to restart, I don’t see why the Champions League and Europa League shouldn’t take place.”

That end date for Uefa’s European tournaments was widely reported but never officially confirmed by the continent’s football governing body. 

Ceferin’s desired deadline gives clubs a chance to finish their domestic competitions — halted across Europe in mid-March — before the Champions League restarts in early August.

In an interview with British daily newspaper The Guardian, Ceferin added that he would be prepared to bet a million dollars on Euro 2020 being played next year following its postponement to 2021.

“Yes, I would,” he said. “I don’t know why it (the tournament) wouldn’t be (played). I don’t think that this virus will last forever. I think it will (change) sooner than many think.

“I don’t like this apocalyptic view that we have to wait for the second and third waves or even a fifth wave.”

Ceferin said football would follow the recommendations of the authorities but he was optimistic that fans would return to the stands quicker than many observers think.

“I’m absolutely sure, personally, that good old football with fans will come back very soon,” he said.

And Ceferin said he did not expect the game to be profoundly changed by the coronavirus. “Football didn’t change after the Second World War, or First World War, and it will not change because of a virus either,” he said.

Meanwhile, Italy’s football federation (FIGC) has set a new date of 20 August for Serie A to finish with the possibility of playoffs in the case of another suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A meeting of FIGC’s Federal Council stressed Italian football’s desire for the top leagues to return to action but confirmed that all amateur competitions will be stopped. 

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juventus-fc-training Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Juventus training yesterday. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

“The FIGC expressed its desire to restart and complete the national professional competitions by setting the last closing date of the Serie A, B and C competitions to August 20,” the FIGC said in a statement. 

The start of next season will be on September 1.

The Italian season has been on hold since March 9 amid the pandemic which has killed more than 32,000 people in Italy. The end of the season had already been pushed back from 30 June 30 to 2 August.

Football clubs were on Tuesday given the all clear by the Italian government to resume group training, but competitions remain suspended until mid-June.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that a decision will be made on 28 May on whether the season can resume after a meeting with football bosses.

On Wednesday, the FIGC said that they would decide before competition resumes the rules to apply in the case of a new suspension. The federation envisages “brief phases of playoff and playout in order to define the result of the competitions”.

If the season were stopped a system would be devised “which will in all cases provide for relegation and promotions”.

The FIGC, however, called time on its amateur leagues, including women’s competitions up to Serie B. A decision on the women’s Serie A will be taken “in the coming days”.

© – AFP, 2020

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