Super Lig

Turkish football chief hopes fans can attend Super Lig games by July

Turkey is targeting a June resumption and could allow fans back to Super Lig stadiums by July, says federation president Nihat Ozdemir.

Coronavirus: Turkish football chief hopes fans can attend Super Lig games by July

Turkish football fans could be allowed back into stadiums by July, the country's football federation chief has revealed.

Nihat Ozdemir is optimistic the Super Lig campaign will be able to resume on June 12, when games will initially take place behind closed doors.

There are eight rounds of games still to be played in the Turkish top flight, and Istanbul is then due to stage the Champions League final, which reportedly could happen on August 29.

Players are already returning to training, with a view to completing the 2019-20 campaign.

HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/SOCCER-TURKEYSoccer Football - Super Lig - Galatasaray v Besiktas - Turk Telekom Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey - March 15, 2020 Galatasaray's Jean Michael Seri takes a corner as the match is played behind closed doors as the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Speaking to CNN Turk, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) president Ozdemir said the June 12 start date remained an objective but 10 alternative scenarios exist that could see the league start up as late as mid-July, with a final midweek run of August 12-14 games planned.

He said it would be crucial to monitor the progress of COVID-19 in Turkey, saying: "Thank goodness it's going very well."

Turkey has suffered over 4,000 deaths and reported more than 148,000 coronavirus cases, according to World Health Organization figures.

Ozdemir says the situation "is getting better every day", adding: "There is almost a month between today and June 12. We have alternatives. Therefore, we do not have a time jam.

"The COVID-19 incident is also going very well. I always say this and pray to Allah Almighty, maybe we will play our matches in July, maybe with spectators."

Ozdemir said it would come down to looking at seating arrangements, and the entrances and exits to stadiums, to ensure guidance on public health is closely followed.

With an eye on the return to action, he added: "We never compromise on health. I believe the health of an athlete and a manager is more important than this league."

Ozdemir wants the league to be decided on the pitch, given the close title battle involving Trabzonspor, Istanbul Basaksehir, Galatasaray and Sivasspor and a relegation squabble involving a host of teams.

He said: "In a breathless league, we can only make the decision to complete the leagues by playing. Otherwise there would be a lot of controversy. Let's make sacrifices, complete these leagues by playing, and find whoever deserves to be the champion. If it wasn't for COVID-19 today, this week was the week the leagues would have ended.

"Maybe we were going to give the championship trophy this week."