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Friday, 29 May 2020

Flick braced for empty stadiums if Bundesliga resumes in May

AFP , Tuesday 7 Apr 2020
Flick
Bayern Munich's German head coach Hansi Flick waves as he arrives for the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v SC Paderborn in Munich, southern Germany, on February 21, 2020. AP
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 Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick expects to play for the foreseeable future in near-empty stadiums without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, should football in Germany resume as hoped in early May.

Most of the 18 clubs in Germany's top flight returned to training on Monday for the first time since the league was suspended in mid-March following the virus outbreak. The league is on hold until at least April 30.

The German Football League (DFL) is currently in discussions with the clubs and authorities about the top two leagues resuming at the start of May, with a decision expected on April 17.

However, should the Bundesliga restart fans will be kept out of stadiums indefinitely to reduce the spreading of the virus as much as possible.

Flick, who last Friday extended his Bayern contract until 2023, said Tuesday that the prospect of games held in front of empty terraces is "something we will have to get used to".

Bayern, who are chasing an eighth straight title, were four points clear in the table when the league was halted.

It is hoped politicians and officials will allow the season to resume in Germany on May 2, to be completed by the target date of June 30.

"We long for it (league football) to return," Flick added.

"We will definitely be ready when the season restarts. But it's out of our hands."

The DFL confirmed to AFP subsidiary SID that discussions about playing in near-empty grounds have been held, although no decision has yet been made.

Germany's top-selling daily Bild reported only 239 people would be allowed at each league game, strictly limited to players, backroom staff, security, officials and media.

With public events currently banned in Germany, the only available option to the league is to hold 'Geisterspiele' - games without fans.

"This must be possible," politician Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of Germany's Bundestag told Sky Sport.

"Especially if we can determine, by a quick test, that none of the players are infected and there is no danger of triggering a chain of infection."

Armin Laschet, president of German state North Rhine-Westphalia which has five Bundesliga clubs, said matches behind closed doors will become the norm, if the league resumes.

"We will not experience major events with many thousands of people in the coming weeks and months," he warned.

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