Uefa considering neutral venues for remaining Champions League matches

Government’s decision to restrict sporting events until September means PSG cannot play at home

Paris Saint-Germain will not be able to play their Champions League games in France under new  government restrictions. Photograph:  Yoan Valat/EPA

Paris Saint-Germain will not be able to play their Champions League games in France under new government restrictions. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

 

Uefa could press ahead with plans to stage the final stages of the Champions League behind closed doors and at neutral venues after the French government confirmed there would be no professional football allowed in the country until at least September 1st.

With Paris Saint-Germain one of four clubs already through to the quarter-finals of Uefa’s flagship competition, the prospect of completing the Champions League in its normal two-leg format is impossible given restrictions announced by France’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, on Tuesday.

European football’s governing body is understood to be considering proposals which would involve the 12 remaining teams, including Manchester City and Chelsea, playing at stadiums under strict controls similar to those in Germany for the proposed return of the Bundesliga next month. All players would be rigorously tested before and after every match, with restrictions on the number of people present.

PSG’s president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, told the radio station RMC: “We respect of course the French government decision. In agreement with Uefa we intend to participate in the final rounds of this season’s Champions League at the time and place at which it will be organised. If it is not possible to play in France, we will play our matches abroad with the assurance that we will place our players and all our staff in the best possible health conditions.”

Uefa is not expected to announce before the end of May its plans to complete the Champions League or Europa League. Last week it backtracked on proposals to ban clubs from European competition if they cancel their seasons and said leagues must decide how to determine final placings “based on sporting merit”.

The seasons in Belgium and the Netherlands have ended, although whereas Club Brugge were crowned champions, the Eredivisie leaders Ajax saw their hopes of another title dashed by their governing body’s decision to void the 2019-20 campaign aside from determining which teams proceed to next season’s European competitions.

Domestic leagues in Europe have a deadline of May 25th to inform Uefa of their intentions, with an executive committee meeting two days later likely to determine the fate of the Champions League and Europa League.

At the start of April the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, said it would be a “better option” to conclude this season’s competitions behind closed doors than scrap them, although he admitted they could be abandoned if coronavirus restrictions remain into September. – Guardian

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