As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the globe, it’s difficult to anticipate when the pandemic will be contained to the point where normal life can resume and football matches can be played again. As it stands, the DFL and the DFB have suspended play in Germany until April 2nd, but it’s more than likely that the decision will be made on Tuesday this week to extend the suspension at least until the beginning of May (AZ). The Football Association of England already has suspended all professional play in England until May 1.
By postponing Euro 2020, UFEA has made it clear that they want to do everything they can to finish all of the domestic leagues as soon as possible. Rainer Koch, Vice President of the DFB, said on Sport1’s “Dopplepass” that he hopes that they’ll finish the current campaign(s) as quickly as they can once they’ve been given the green light.
The idea of “ghost games,” matches without fans present, has been touted and already utilized both in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League. The problem of such matches is that it is still necessary to prevent large gatherings of fans outside of the venues. That might be controlled better now with the “shelter in place” orders in effect across Europe. Realizing that a lot of fans are completely against the idea of “ghost games,” Koch still feels that it’s a better alternative than having no football at all, especially in light of the amount of time in which football will not have been played:
We have to summon the ghosts in the event that the very existence of football is in jeopardy. No one wants games without fans, but even fewer people want no football at all.
It’s been suggested that the DFL and DFB have already put together potential scenarios to complete the seasons once it can resume. All these options depend, of course, on when, that is.
The three current contingency plans reportedly in place are as follows:
- By using “English Weeks,” i.e. weeks with multiple matchdays, the remaining 9 Bundesliga matchdays could be played over four weeks, so that all the teams play the same amount of matches in the same amount of time to close out the season.
- Neutral venues across Germany could host multiple matches per day either with or without fans. The competition would take place in a tournament style similar to the European Championships or the World Cup, aside from the teams being separated into different groups.
- The teams play all nine remaining matchdays as quickly as possible, essentially having every team play almost every two days. This is a worst-case scenario, assuming that matches cannot be played with enough time between the start of the next 2020/21 season and whatever UEFA decides to do with the remainder of the Champions League and Europa League.
All of these options will also depend on what the rest of the landscape for the European competitions will look like, which is increasingly significant for Bayern Munich, since they already have one foot in the quarter-finals with their 3-0 aggregate lead over Chelsea.