Bundesliga considering ‘ghost games’ in May

Berlin, April 1 (IANS) Germany’s 36 professional football clubs are set to make an effort to finish the 2019/20 national league season by the end of June.

A medical task force is investigating options to start ‘ghost games’ beginning in May in an attempt to finish the remaining nine rounds of matches, reports Xinhua news agency.

In a video-conference on Tuesday, the league members voted for an extension of the current shutdown until April 30. The league association’s CEO, Christian Seifert, said all future decisions depend on the development of the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting instructions of health authorities.

Several experts said they don’t expect games without fans until at least September. Games with fans are out of sight until 2021. Regular team training remains prohibited until April 5. “That doesn’t mean we will return to team sessions as we know it a day later,” the 50-year-old league official emphasised.

Seifert outlined that the main goal is to finish the season by June 30, yet international competitions need to be considered. “It might be necessary to play until July, which will affect the 2019-20 season.”

On Wednesday, an emergency video meeting with UEFA will take place to discuss further measures.

Seifert demanded a postponement of international games and competitions. “We need to shift these games to autumn to allow the national leagues in Europe to finish the current season,” he commented.

The league CEO demanded the solidarity of all countries involved. “We need to do everything together, which means we have to consider space for international matchdays as well as for the continental tournaments such as the Copa America, the African Cup of Nations, and the Euros,” he added.

Seifert spoke about possibly scheduling Champions League games on weekends.

The initiated medical task force is trying to find ways to minimise TV, team and arena staff crews to carry out games on weekends in May. All clubs are required to present suitable concepts for games behind closed doors under restricted circumstances.

The number of the matchday employees will have to be reduced to under 200. Off-pitch staff will have to follow strict rules as set out by the league and medical experts.

Players will have to go through brief medical examinations such as temperature checks, at least two hours before the games, to avoid symptomatic footballers entering the pitch.

“The next season will inevitably be affected, and common efforts are needed to find a solution,” Seifert added.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested German football might be forced to finish the current season as late as September. Several medical experts expect a growing risk of new infections in summer, as more people flock to public spaces.

Rummenigge criticised UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin for suggesting a possible early end of European club competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League.

To talk about that at present “is increasing the uncertainty among football clubs,” Rummenigge stressed. The Bayern official also suggested reconsidering financial fair play rules.

“We might have to allow investors to provide fresh money for the clubs to secure their future and pay wages to staff and players,” the 64-year-old said.

Rummenigge announced the reigning German Champion had postponed all of its transfer discussions for the time being.

The league association Deutsche Fussball Liga announced it will lower requirements regarding next season’s license procedures. German clubs are required to prove liquidity in a comprehensive process in advance of every season.