KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: European federation UEFA has embarked on a dangerous course by warning national associations that they risk seeing their clubs banned from the club competitions if they halt domestic campaigns now.
This follows the decision by the Belgian league to freeze its championship at the point matches were suspended and amid calls by several Dutch clubs, including Ajax, for similar action in the Netherlands.
UEFA’s response struck an oddly panicky note at a time when next season is hardly anyone’s priority amid the worldwide health emergency.
However, a letter signed jointly by UEFA, the European Club Association and European Leagues said:
We are sure that football will be able to restart in the coming months, with conditions that will be approved by public authorities. We believe that any decision to abandon national competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.
The work now focuses on scenarios spanning the months of July and August, including the possibility of UEFA competitions being restarted after the completion of the national leagues.
Joint calendar management is strictly required, as the conclusion of the current season must be coordinated with the start of the new one, which may be affected in part due to the overload of the current one.”
Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full national competition, a premature termination would cast doubt on the fulfillment of that condition.”
The threat may spark more unrest than unity since the governments and health authorities of each European country have reacted in varying ways to the coronavirus pandemic and levelled varying sets and styles of restrictions.
It is hard to imagine UEFA barring Champions League slots to, say, Real Madrid and Barcelona, if the Spanish sports authorities were to declare the 2019-20 season null and void.
Indeed, such action might only spark renewed talk of an independent European SuperLeague and encourage international governing body FIFA in its push to extend its own influence into the elite club world.
Further significance may be extracted from the fact that UEFA is already talking about the Champions League and Europa League next season . . . rather than this season’s abruptly-halted campaigns.