CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ceferin: "There is a chance that no more matches will be played this season"

UEFA's president declared that the Champions League and Europa League must be concluded by 3 August but conceded that the current season may already be over.

With every day that goes by, the available dates to complete all of the unfinished competitions in Europe start to dwindle. Sport remains on hold for the foreseeable future while the coronavirus pandemic remains at large. With football paralysed across Europe, UEFA continue to study the  possible dates when competitions might be able to resume as well as potentially modifying formats so that games can be fitted in. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin declared today that both this year's Europa League and the Champions League would have to resume in July and must be concluded before 3 August: “By the 3rd of August both tournaments must have been completed. We're in a situation which is unprecedented and we have to be flexible; we could play on the same days as the local leagues - even at the same time. We have several different plans for restarting the Champions League and the Europa League in May, June, July and there is even the possibility that the remaining matches won't be played at all. It all depends on the respective governments in every country and whether they will allow the tournaments to be completed - if they say no football matches can be played, there is nothing we can do. By September or October it will be too late," Cerefin explained in an interview with German TV channel ZDF.

Format changes to two-legged ties

UEFA have not ruled out the possibility of tweaking the format of both competitions to effectively shorten them and gain time: “We could play using the current system or play one game instead of a tie over two legs, with a draw to determine who plays at home - or maybe even play at a neutral ground. We could also play a final 8 or a final 4 system. It's like that all games will be played behind closed doors but televised,” he added.

The UEFA president stressed that at this point in time, the health of the players and those who work in football is paramount: “It would be a mistake to put players', fans', referees' health at risk... We need sport, it elevates people and gives them energy and now, fans are starting to get anxious and nervous. Football is a serious business although the real superstars at the moment are doctors, nurses and health workers”.