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The big soccer leagues are set to restart in May-June
Which leagues will restart and when?
Some 69 days have passed since we last saw some games in the big European Soccer Leagues. Since the weekend 6-8th of March there has been no soccer in the Old World. One on the longest periods in modern times without soccer. A true voyage through the desert for soccer lovers. The only league that has been playing has been the Belorussian league, not too exciting to be honest. But now soccer is back! We will take a look at when and how the big leagues are set to restart.
The first one out: Faroe Islands Premier League
These are not big sporting news but more a curiosity: The first soccer league in Europe to restart was Faroe Islands Premier League (known as Betri deildin menn for sponsorship reasons). The league on this North Atlantic archipelago with a population of 52,110 people can enjoy soccer again from Saturday 9th of May 2020. As we say, no huge sporting news but a relief for all soccer fans to see that there is life after the coronavirus crisis.
Bundesliga – the first of the big ones
The first of The Big Six to restart is the German Bundesliga. They played their last round during the weekend 6-8th of March, which was Matchweek 25 in the German Bundesliga. They restarted after the Covid-19 lockdown period with Round 26 on Saturday 16th of May (yesterday, this article was written on Sunday 17th of May). Six games were played on Saturday 16th of May:
- RB Leipzig-Friburg 1-1
- Fortuna Düsseldorf-Paderborn 0-0
- Hoffenheim-Hertha Berlin 0-3
- Borussia Dortmund-Schalke Null Vier 4-0
- Augsburg – Wolfsburg 1-2
- Eintrach Frankfurt – Borrusia Mönchegladbach 1-3
Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund-Schalke 04
Without a doubt, the most interesting game on Matchday One after the lockdown was Borussia Dortmund-Schalke 04. This is a famous game in Germany since it is a Ruhr Derby between neighbours/bitter rivals. Many Dortmund fans feel more excited about this game than the games against Bayern München. And who scored the first goal in Bundesliga after 69 days? Erling Haaland of course! The guy is going to be in all record books in the world! Borussia Dortmund went on to bet their eternal rival 4-0 at an empty Signal Iduna Park (Westfalenstadion).
Nine rounds left to play in Bundesliga – behind closed doors
Because all the rest of the games in the German Bundesliga will be played behind closed doors. There are 9 rounds left in Bundesliga since they have 34 match weeks. The plan is to finish the complicated season 2019/20 in 43 days. That means playing 9 rounds until the 27th of June. We will have games in the German first league every 3 days then.
Dynamo Dresden in Bundesliga 2 – the whole team in quarantine
German soccer was set to restart on the weekend 15-17th of May 2020, with games in Bundesliga, Bundesliga 2 and the soccer league for women, Frauen-Bundesliga. But it suffered a major blow just days before the restart. Two players in Dynamo Dresden, which plays in the German Second Division, Bundesliga 2, tested positive for coronavirus and the whole team was places in quarantine. It is clear that restart of soccer in Europe is going to be shaky indeed.
Like watching a friendly game on the moon
The German newspaper Der Spiegel about watching the matches in Bundesliga with empty stadiums: “It is like watching friendly games on the moon”. And yeah, soccer behind closed doors is no fun. In the end, soccer is for the fans or for money?!
The first game to be postponed for coronavirus was Manchester City against Arsenal, on Wednesday, 11th of March 2020. That was Match Week 28/29 in the English Premier League. That means that the clubs in top-flight have a combined 92 matches left to play in the 2019/20 season. Therefore, there are 10-11 rounds left to play (some teams have played 28 games, others 29).
Project Restart in UK – Green light for soccer from 1st of June
The British Government under Boris Johnson has given the green light for soccer to go ahead, but not before June 1. And behind closed doors. The Premier League clubs have gone together in “Project Restart” – their proposal to get the season back on track. The initial proposal seems to be returning to action during the weekend 12-14th of June.
There is a major obstacle though: Some players seem quite reluctant to get back to the pitch. And we are talking some big names here, like Sergio Agüero, the Manchester City star striker. He says the following: “A majority of players are scared at the possibility that the Premier League could return to action during the coronavirus pandemic”. Many players do not want to return while people are still dying from Covid-19. Quite a reasonable argument I´d say.
Many of the stadiums do not fulfil safety standards
Some of the 20 arenas where the Premier League clubs play cannot be used due to new safety rules for the coronavirus. So it seems like the rest of the season would be played at neutral pitches. Some of the clubes (the smaller ones) are against this, for obvious reasons. It is always an advantage to play at home, even if there are no spectators.
Possible delay until the 26th of June
More news from the UK: Even though Project Restart initially said 12th fo June, it now seems that Premier League will be further delayed until the 26th of June. Because doctors and trainers don´t think it will be possible for the players to be prepared for the 12th of June. Many haven´t been able to train well during the lockdown.
Watford captain Troy Deeney refuses to train with his teammates
The Premier League Clubs will start to train in groups on Tuesday 19th, but without physical contact. But Troy Deeney, captain of Watford, is refusing to join the teammates. He is worried about his family´s health. Mainly because his 5-month-old son was born with breathing problems.
Restart of Premier League – in the air
The British Isles have suffered heavily from the coronavirus and even though they are easing the lockdown measures, a lot of people still get infected and are dying. So the outlook for Premier League does not look too good in our opinion. Even though the games would be played behind closed doors, with empty stadiums.
Ligue 1 in France
The French First Division, Ligue 1, was suspended on the 28th of April. This means that there will be no more games for the season 2019/20. PSG was declared Champion of France. Marseille will play Champions League next year and Toulouse and Amiens descend to Second Division.
Serie A – Italy
The clubs were going to restart group training on Monday 18th of May but this has now been postponed. The Italian Government don´t think it´s secure to resume work in bigger groups. Individual training will continue at the clubs´ facilities then.
As for the restart of the season in Serie A, there are still no fixed date. The clubs want to restart on the 13th of June 2020, but the Italian Government say it is still too early to say.
Suspension of the rest of the season in Serie A?
Some clubs in Lega Calcio also want to suspend the current season. Pierpaolo Marino, manager for the technical area at Udinese has said to “Rai”: “It would be crazy to restart on the 13th of June. There would be an enormous risk of injuries. In Bundesliga in Germany there has been a bloodshed, and they started to train seven weeks before the restart”. We will have to investigate this supposed “bloodshed” in Bundesliga a bit further, I think.
The Dutch Eredivisie
Same status as in France and Ligue 1: The 2019/20 season of the Eredivisie in Holland has also been suspended. No more games in the Netherlands until August/September then.
La Liga Santander in Spain
The LPF conducted tests for coronavirus on some 2,500 professional players in the Spanish First and Second Division. Only eight were found to have the virus or antibodies.
So group training will resume in La Liga Santander and in the Second Division (La Liga Smartbank): players can train in groups of 10 from Monday 18th of May 2020.
As for the restart of the Spanish league, Javier Tebas, who is chairman at LPF, wants to start playing on Friday June 12th. La Liga Santander will also be played behind closed doors. He says there is virtually no risk of infection during a game. It is indeed a controversial statement, which for example I disagree of. They have also been talking about “contact-free tackles” in Spain. We wonder how that would look like.
Allsvenskan – The Swedish Soccer League
Our parent company is Swedish so we have a special “weakness” for the Swedish First Division, Allsvenskan. The two top Swedish soccer leagues – Allsvenskan and Superettan – are set to start on June 14th. We say start because the leagues in Sweden normally start in April every year. And the ambition is to play with fans at the stadiums. Because as you probably know, Sweden has taken its own path during the coronacrisis and there has been no lockdown in Sweden.
News about the Swedish Cup
But there are still some major obstacles to be overcome. Especially since the virus is still spreading in Sweden, as it is in the rest of the world. For example, The Public Health Agency of Sweden just postponed the Swedish Cup, indefinitely. The cup was set to start in the first week of June but now it looks like it might never be played. If it is cancelled this season, AIK will get the chance to play Europa League, since the finished 4th in Allsvenskan last season.
Season 2020 of Allsvenskan to start in June?
The clubs are prepared to start on the 14th of June but again the Public Health Agency of Sweden has postponed all decisions about soccer in Sweden until the first week of June. That is, there will not even be a date until the beginning of June and therefore the 14th looks highly improbable at this moment. The Women´s Soccer League, Damallsvenskan, has said it will start on the 27-28th of June.
Risk that clubs go bankrupt
The Swedish Soccer Association says there is a real risk that some clubs go bankrupt if the season won´t start soon. Both in the First Division, Allsvenskan, and the Second Division, Superettan. They say we are talking thousands of workers being left without jobs. And also, the Swedish soccer will fall behind if they don´t start soon.