CORONAVIRUS

Champions League, Europa League: UEFA considers single-legged ties

In a bid to ensure the season finishes, UEFA is considering playing the rest of the 2019/20 Champions League and Europa League in single-match format.

Champions League: UEFA mulls move to single-legged ties
JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELA DIARIO AS

Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, UEFA is to do everything it can to maintain the current dates of the Champions League final, set for 30 May in Istanbul, and the Europa League final, scheduled to be played three days earlier in Gdansk.

UEFA could temporarily ditch two-legged European ties

With that in mind, the Daily Mail reports, European football's governing body is to consider playing the rest of both competitions in single-legged format.

Currently, all Champions League and Europa League knockout ties - except for the final - are played over two, home-and-away legs.

UEFA’s chief conundrum in such a scenario, the report adds, will be deciding where the one-off ties would be held. One option would be to use neutral venues, while another would be to draw the home side in each pairing out of a hat.

With even the most optimistic predictions pointing to a return to action in April at the earliest, there will be little room for manoeuvre in the football schedule, and the Mail says there is "a growing feeling at UEFA that one-off ties are now the only way forward”.

However, the potential postponement of Euro 2020 until next year could allow the club game greater scope to reorganise its domestic and European calendars further into the summer and, in the process, avoid format changes.

Russia offers to host more Euro 2020 games

Not if UEFA accepts a proposal made by Russia in recent hours, though.

To ensure the European Championship does go ahead this summer, the country - which is one of the venues for the 12-city finals - has publicly put itself forward to host more than the four tournament games scheduled to be held in St Petersburg.

With other host nations badly hit by the spread of the coronavirus - particularly Italy - Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said on Friday: “In the dates which include Russia's participation in Euro 2020 we could definitely expand the program [host more matches]. It's up to UEFA to approach us with this offer.”

Russia has been far less affected by the spread of the coronavirus, having registered just 45 confirmed cases and no deaths by Friday.