German government and state leaders are set on Wednesday to give the
Bundesliga the green light to restart behind closed doors later this
month after weeks of shutdown imposed to control the spread of the
coronavirus, according to a draft government agreement.
Politicians believe resuming matches in the first and second
divisions to "limit the economic damage" for the 36 clubs is
"acceptable", the document showed.
More than a dozen of the 36 teams in the top two divisions are on the
brink of bankruptcy, according to media reports, and the league
desperately needs to recoup €300 million it would be
due from TV contracts if the clubs are allowed to complete the season.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers will set a date for the
season to resume in a telephone conference later Wednesday, with media
reporting the weekend of May 23-24 was being earmarked.
The Bundesliga would become the first major European league to return to action.
Teams returned to training on April 6 although sessions have followed
stringent social distancing rules and players are not allowed to change
at training grounds. Before matches, players will have to undergo a
form of quarantine.
The government document said: "Restarting match activity must be
preceded by a two-week quarantine, where appropriate in the form of a
league (DFL) has long urged restarting play, which it says is vital for a
sector that employs 56 000 people in Germany.
It says an intensive testing plan would allow matches to be relaunched with low risk.
So far, clubs in the top two divisions have returned 10 positive
results for coronavirus from 1 724 tests since training resumed. Three
of the cases are known to be from the Cologne club and two from Borussia
Health Minister Jens Spahn has argued that the testing regime "makes
sense and can serve as an example for other forms of professional
sport," although he warned "it has to be lived up to".
The league and politicians reacted with consternation when Hertha
Berlin player Salomon Kalou filmed himself shaking hands with teammates
this week, flaunting the social distancing rules the clubs have put in
"The video has done the German league and professional football a
disservice," Anja Stahmann, who chairs Germany's regional sports
ministers, told RBB radio on Wednesday.
Hertha have suspended Kalou, and the 34-year-old former Chelsea player has apologised profusely.
If it gets the green light from politicians, the DFL will hold a
general meeting by video conference Thursday where representatives from
the clubs will finalise details for the restart.
Bayern Munich, seeking their eighth consecutive title, were four points clear at the top of the table when play was halted.
Leagues across Europe are taking different approaches to the unprecedented crisis.
The French league announced last week it will not resume the Ligue 1
or Ligue 2 seasons, with Paris Saint-Germain being awarded the
The Netherlands abandoned its season a week earlier while a decision to cancel Belgium's Pro League still needs to be ratified.
The Premier League, Europe's richest league, has said it aims to
restart in June, but deep differences are emerging over plans to use
Players in Italy's Serie A returned to training this week and in
Spain, Barcelona say players will undergo coronavirus tests on Wednesday
as La Liga clubs begin restricted training ahead of a proposed
resumption of the season next month.