The professional football leagues in the top 5 European destinations that have been suspended due to the social distancing directives have different return timetables as expected, but Germany is looking to lead the pack, recently authorizing the restart of Bundesliga 1 and Bundesliga 2 from mid-May.
The Bundesliga is set to become the first professional football league in Europe to resume its schedule, after nearly all of them were halted in March to help enforce the self-distancing effort of national governments looking to contain the further spread of the coronavirus.
Both Bundesliga 1 and 2 were suspended March 13, but last week Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel informed regional authorities games could restart from mid-May, effectively opening up the possibility for the German Football Association (DFB) to decide on a possible return date. Fixtures in both professional divisions are now set to recommence Saturday, May 16, with the most interesting from the re-openers being the Ruhr derby Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04, and nearly two months after all games were suspended.
Despite the announcement from Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that Serie A can restart June 2, there is still doubt whether this can happen, with a lot of conflicting information coming from ministers, the Italian Federation, the league and the clubs. Players are back in training but the main sticking point seems to be the medical protocol of the Italian Federation, labelled as “insufficient” by Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora.
Although there is no official announcement from La Liga, some media reports claim the return date has been set, June 20, and the league is expected to finish its season by July 26, playing over 11 dates, Saturday-Sunday and Wednesday-Thursday. Spanish football clubs have been returning to their training bases for the players to undergo testing, a precondition for going back to training. The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is also looking to ease the players into the games, seeking the approval from the Independent Football Association Board (IFAB) regarding the implementation of 5 regular substitutions per game.
The Premier League is yet to decide upon the date of its players returning to the pitch to complete the season, the common ground being that this will happen only when it is permitted to do so by government and health officials. There was a report in the Telegraph that suggested the Premier League was seeking a possible return date June 8, but no official confirmation of this. Meanwhile, some clubs decided to open their training facilities for players to begin individual training sessions.
The regular season in Ligue 1 has been called off, as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that major sports fixtures, including those behind closed doors, will not be permitted in the country before September. Ligue 1 crowned Paris St Germain as champions, but are facing legal action from Olympique Lyonnais, for being denied a European spot, as well as from both relegated clubs, Amiens and Toulouse.