League-by-league guide to the return of football around Europe

AFP , Saturday 23 May 2020

Signal Iduna Park played host to Borussia Dortmund against Schalke last weekend as the German Bundes
Signal Iduna Park played host to Borussia Dortmund against Schalke last weekend as the German Bundesliga became the first major European league to restart after the coronavirus shutdown (AFP)

With the German Bundesliga on its second weekend back following the two-month coronavirus shutdown and La Liga given the green light by the Spanish government to return next month, AFP Sport casts a glance at the situation for football leagues across Europe:

- Leagues restarting -

On Friday the Bundesliga started its second matchday since returning from its virus hiatus last week, with all matches going ahead behind closed doors.

It was not the first European league to return, however. That honour went to the Faroe Islands, which resumed its league a week earlier. Not forgetting Belarus, which was the only European country where football carried on throughout the last two months.

On Saturday Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said La Liga could return in the week of June 8, meaning league chief Javier Tebas' desire to restart on June 12 should now become reality.

Here are confirmed restart dates elsewhere:

Czech Republic -- May 23

Denmark -- May 28

Serbia -- May 30

Austria -- June 2

Portugal -- June 4

Slovenia -- June 5

Croatia -- June 6

Turkey -- June 12

Norway -- June 16

Russia -- June 21

Finland -- July 1

- Still awaiting green light -

England and Italy both remain hopeful of completing the season but ongoing concerns about the health crisis mean nothing is set in stone.

Six positive cases for coronavirus were detected at three English Premier League clubs, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, following tests of players and staff ahead of this week's return to socially-distanced training in small groups.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday that he is "as confident as we can be" that England's top flight will return in June.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Wednesday that it has pushed back the end date for the current season to August 20, with matches not to be played before June 14.

On Tuesday Serie A clubs were given the all clear by the Italian government to resume group training. However sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says clubs will have to wait until Thursday to know if the season can resume.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he needs "more guarantees" before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.

Other hoped-for restart dates include:

Romania -- May 27

Poland -- May 29

Greece - June 6

Switzerland -- June 20

- Season over -

The Netherlands was the first European country to bring an early end to the season on April 24 as the Eredivisie was cancelled without a champion being crowned.

France then followed suit on April 30, ending the season with 10 rounds of matches unplayed.

The season was not voided, though, with Paris Saint-Germain confirmed as champions, European places dished out and relegation and promotion between the top two divisions maintained on a two-up, two-down basis.

Belgium has also ended its season, with Club Brugge champions, after the Belgian government announced it was suspending all sporting competitions until July 31.

In Scotland the season had already been called early in the three divisions below the top flight and the Premiership followed suit on Monday, with Celtic being crowned champions for the ninth year running.

Luxembourg and Cyprus also called an end to their seasons but without naming a champion.

However in Cyprus European places were attributed with Omonia Nicosia entering the qualifying rounds of the next Champions League.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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