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DFL unanimously agrees to suspend Bundesliga play until at least April 30th

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This decision was inevitable and the DFL can now plan for the future in accordance with government guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Football “DFL” Photo by Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

The decision was pretty much inevitable, but the DFL announced today during their general assembly meeting between all Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga clubs that matches will be suspended through April 30th. The 30th of April had been the standing date for when play could potentially resume, but as the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading across Europe, the Bundesliga will likely have to finish at some point during the late spring or early summer (DFL.de).

DFL CEO Christian Seifert also said that team training for Bundesliga clubs is still banned until April 5th and that the goal is still to try and finish the seasons by the end of June. He added that the remaining games in the Bundesliga and 2. Liga schedules would likely take place behind closed doors, and that’s something that might also extend into the start of the 2020/2021 season (FourFourTwo):

We aim to end the season by June 30th, and that is still the status today. We want to see what is possible. If games can take place, it can be assumed that they will necessarily have to take place without spectators, possibly into next season, maybe until the end of the year.

The other top flights in Europe seem to have a bit more uncertainty as to when and if they can finish their seasons. The Premier League has touted the idea of having so-called mini tournaments in the summer where teams would essentially be in isolated World-Cup-like camps after having all been tested for COVID-19. They would then play the remainder of their matches in the span of a few weeks at a neutral venue without any spectators. As ESPN has described it:

They would test players, staff, officials and referees (but also cameramen, producers and commentators, because let’s face it, that’s what this is about) and as long as they’re negative, sequester them away somewhere with lots of football pitches. Keep them away from COVID-19 and the general population, let them play, train, sleep, eat and play their video games together and put the whole shebang on TV.

This potential idea has been met with a fair amount of criticism, but Seifert said the the Bundesliga is in a better position both financially and legally than the other leagues in Europe:

We do not know yet what further developments in England, Spain, France and Italy will look like. There is a lot of uncertainty. We have better conditions than others in Europe. The discussions we have with our media partners take place at a different level.


Other noteworthy points from the DFL’s assembly:

  • The points deduction for clubs that have to initiate insolvency proceedings has been reduced from 9 to 3 in an effort to give clubs enough time to economically recover from the damage COVID-19 has done in that respect. Additionally, the clubs’ liquidity situation will not be examined as part of the pending licensing process for the 2020-21 season. Basically, the clubs on the lower end of the financial spectrum in the Bundesliga and 2. Liga are being given leeway to financially recover without much, or any, penalty,
  • A “Sports Medicine/Special Match Operations Task Force” has been established and will be headed by Prof. Dr med. Tim Meyer, Medical Director of the Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine at Saarland University and team doctor for the German national team. The task force will formulate plans for safely resuming matches after ensuring players and staff members can all be tested and examine the cases that are already present in the Bundesliga and 2. Liga. They’ll also be responsible for ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the venues that will potentially host the remaining matches,
  • As long as it’s deemed safe by health professionals, the DFL is working on getting everyone to agree to play remaining matches behind closed doors to ensure the season finishes.