A meeting to help plot European football’s path through the coronavirus pandemic has been called for Wednesday.
UEFA has invited the leaders of its 55 national member associations to a video conference starting at 11am UK time to receive an update from working groups set up on March 17 in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
One working group is looking at how the 2019-20 fixture calendar can be completed, while the other was focused on economic and regulatory issues such as adjustments to player contracts and transfer windows.
A decision was taken to postpone Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021 at that March 17 meeting, alongside a commitment to completing domestic and European club competitions by June 30.
That target now looks optimistic in the extreme, with the continent still in the grip of the pandemic. It was confirmed on Wednesday that there have now been more coronavirus-related deaths in Spain than in China, where the outbreak originated.
Italy too has been hit extremely hard, with more than 10,000 fatalities there linked to the virus, while the United Kingdom is on lockdown, with the death toll passing 1,000 over the weekend.
It has been reported that one proposal that member associations will be asked to consider would involve finishing the 2019-20 season in August and then playing a shortened 2020-21 campaign, to avoid that season overlapping with the new dates for Euro 2020.
A statement from UEFA on Monday read: “UEFA has invited the general secretaries of its 55 member associations to a video conference on Wednesday April 1 at midday to share an update on the progress made by the two working groups that were created two weeks ago and to discuss options identified with regards to the potential rescheduling of matches.
“The meeting will look at developments across all UEFA national team and club competitions, as well as discussing progress at FIFA and European level on matters such as player contracts and the transfer system.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin accepts any firm forward planning is almost impossible given the current uncertain outlook.
Ceferin told Italian media outlet La Repubblica over the weekend: “There is a plan A, B and C. We can start in May, in June or the end of June. If we can’t do it on any of those three dates then the season probably would be lost.
“There is also the possibility to finish the season at the start of next season, with next season starting a little late. It would have to work with respect to the players and the signing periods.”
In terms of player contracts, world players’ union FIFPRO, which is represented on the second working group, has expressed support for the idea of deals being extended until the 2019-20 season is complete, provided it applied to all contracts and not just those of players that clubs wanted to keep.
The union’s secretary general Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said earlier this month: “With a little bit of common sense and co-operation from everybody, this should be resolvable.”
The dates for a transfer window are at the individual discretion of national associations, but UEFA members may seek to align themselves to avoid being at any disadvantage from an earlier closure than a rival competition.
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