FILE - Former Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness. Photo: Andreas Gebert/Reuters
FILE - Former Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness. Photo: Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Bundesliga leaders contemplate tough choices with season on line

Time of article published Mar 15, 2020

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BERLIN – Bundesliga leaders on Sunday were contemplating tough choices ahead of Monday's meeting in Frankfurt which is expected to confirm a suspension of play until early next month.

Bayern Munich honorary president Uli Hoeness said "there is no handbook" on what to do next to deal with the coronavirus emergency and called on football to be patient.

"We finally have to face reality. We have to wait four weeks, drive everything down to zero. Maybe we'll have to stop playing football in October," he said on Sport1 television.

Hoeness' comments came on a weekend which has seen the Bundesliga, like other major leagues in Europe, suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday's meeting of the 36 clubs in the top two divisions (DFL) at a Frankfurt airport hotel will be both crucial and futile. Matters must be discussed urgently but decisions, beyond in the shortest-term, cannot be made.

Although the DFL board has recommended a Bundesliga suspension until April 2, Berlin's Bundesliga clubs are facing a longer delay after a ban by city authorities.

Berlin is now banning all public and private events with more than 50 people until at least April 19 in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

That would affect Union Berlin's home matches against Mainz on April 4 and Schalke on April 18, and Hertha Berlin's game against Augsburg on April 11.

"I think this meeting is important. But almost nothing can be decided," Hoeness said.

While Hoeness is not ruling anything out, options are already being narrowed elsewhere.

Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke believes only closed door games will be possible should the Bundesliga return from the enforced break.

"If we play again this season, it will be closed door games," Watzke told broadcaster ARD. "No one in the Bundesliga is still assuming that we will still have games with fans."

Bayer Leverkusen chief executive Fernando Carro agreed it could be the only way to complete the season. "Nobody wants closed door games," his club quoted him saying. "They go against the whole purpose of the Bundesliga.

"At the same time, there can be an emergency solution for a proper end to the season, which is essential economically for many clubs."

Fan groups have already called closed door games unacceptable but while they would cost clubs millions of euros, they at least would enable the valuable television contracts to be protected.

The league members are expected to discuss various scenarios, including the possibility of the season having to be cancelled.

But Carro told dpa: "A cancellation of all competitions is for many reasons not an option."

Such a scenario could lead to an estimated loss of around 750 million euros (833.4 million dollars) for the top two divisions.

The loss of television income for the unplayed nine games would be around 370 million euros from an original pot of 1.4 billion euros.

Self-interest is also certain to play a part with bottom club Paderborn already setting out their red line regarding relegation.

"It's only unthinkable for us that we end the season now and the two last clubs are relegated," their three chief executives Martin Hornberger, Martin Przondziono and Ralf Huschen told the team homepage in a joint interview.

German broadcaster ZDF said Sunday that European governing body UEFA would propose delaying the Euros at a video conference of all 55 members on Tuesday, something which seems increasingly impossible to avoid.

That would give leagues some room to extend their seasons with the Euros being played either later this year or in summer 2021 if world governing body FIFA agreed to delay the revamped Club World Cup.

Decisions will also be taken on how to proceed with the Champions League and Europa League, after upcoming matches in both competitions this week were postponed.


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