Uefa has called off June’s round of international fixtures, including the Euro 2020 play-offs, and has postponed the current Champions League and Europa League campaigns until further notice amid the coronavirus crisis. It is understood that one option under consideration is that the two competitions could now be completed in July and August.
The governing body of European football met by videoconference on Wednesday with representatives of its 55 constituent national FAs to formulate a plan of action following the total shutdown of professional sport this past month. The outcome was an almost complete suspension of activity until further notice, from youth competitions to the continent’s most prestigious tournaments in both the men’s and women’s games.
With this summer’s men’s European Championship having already been postponed until 2021, the pressure to complete the play-offs – which include Scotland v Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina v Northern Ireland and Slovakia v Republic of Ireland – is not imminent. England’s two scheduled friendly matches in June, in Austria and at home to Romania at Villa Park, are also off.
The question of what to do with the Champions League and Europa League, however, is more pressing. Both competitions were suspended in March with four ties remaining to be completed in the Champions League last 16, including Manchester City’s with Real Madrid and Chelsea’s with Bayern Munich. In the Europa League, none of the eight last-16 ties have been completed, with two first legs yet to take place.
The women’s Champions League had reached the quarter-final stage but none of the four first-leg ties had been played.
While a plan to play the remaining matches in both men’s competitions in the summer months was one plan put under consideration, it is also accepted that the later the competitions are delayed the more preference must be given to the completion of domestic competitions.
The English Premier League is set to discuss its own contingency plans at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on Friday. One plan involves completing the domestic season during June and July, should conditions allow. While it is also just one of a number of potential solutions set to be discussed, it would have a consequences for any plans made by Uefa.
At this stage, however, potential rescheduling remains only so many marks on a piece of paper. With coronavirus cases and deaths continuing to rise in Europe and across the world, no one can say with any confidence when professional sport will resume or even in what form.