UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned clubs from countries that have cancelled their leagues they face starting in the ‘preliminary rounds’ of European competitions next season.
France, Belgium and Holland are among the countries to curtail their top division seasons amid the Covid-19 pandemic and there could now be consequences for certain clubs.
It will also serve as a warning to the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A as they scramble to get their seasons restarted.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned clubs from countries that have ended their leagues early amid the Covid-19 crisis may have to play pre-qualify for Europe next season
After the Ligue 1 season was cancelled and Paris Saint-Germain declared champions, Ceferin’s threat means PSG may have to pre-qualify for next season’s Champions League
Ceferin and UEFA want their member nations to conclude their domestic competitions when it’s safe to do so and pushed the Champions League and Europa League back to accommodate this.
With Germany’s Bundesliga restarting this weekend and many other leagues across Europe planning to resume in the next few weeks, Ceferin has restated his objection to those that have ended early.
It raises the prospect of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille having to pre-qualify for next season’s Champions League rather than starting in the group stage.
Ajax, who would expect to start in the play-off round, may have to play additional qualifying games.
The UEFA chief also ‘guaranteed’ this season’s Champions League and Europa League would be finished in August so the next campaign can begin as quickly as possible.
‘All sporting titles should be assigned based on results,’ he said. ‘As responsible leaders, we must ensure that will be the case as long as even the slightest chance exists of using a practicable solution.
‘There is a concrete plan to complete the European season, too. I think most of the leagues will be able to bring their campaigns to completion.
UEFA are eager for leagues to be played out when it is safe to do so with Germany’s Bundesliga the latest to resume this weekend
Marseille have also qualified for next season’s Champions League after Ligue 1 was ended
‘Those who do not, and that is their choice, will have to go through preliminary rounds if they want to participate in the next UEFA competition.
‘We’re waiting for the dates to be confirmed, but I can guarantee that the [continental] cup tournaments will be concluded in August, assuming of course there are no cataclysmic events.
‘The national leagues are separate and they must decide autonomously how to proceed. As I said many times, I think at least 80 per cent of the tournaments will be concluded on the field of play.’
In an interview with beIN Sports this week, Ceferin described France’s decision to end the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 season as ‘premature’ because the situation ‘can improve a lot.’
The English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s LaLiga are all working on safety protocols to get their seasons restarted though many hurdles have yet to be overcome.
Ajax will play in next season’s Champions League after the Dutch Eredivisie was curtailed but the league leaders were not declared champions
Ceferin told Corriere dello Sport in Italy: ‘Nobody wants to be considered irresponsible. The organisers of the national competitions are working on very serious and thought-out security protocols that will have to be applied with absolute rigour.
‘There is no such thing as zero risk in any work environment. I have a great deal of respect for Serie A players and directors, so I don’t believe there is any attempt at a boycott.’
The majority of European leagues will resume without fans in the stadium for fear of spreading the coronavirus and Ceferin hopes this is a temporary measure.
‘I fear that for a certain period, it won’t be possible to let fans into the stadiums,’ he said. ‘I hope it doesn’t last too long, after which we’ll finally meet again in stands packed with passionate sporting enthusiasts. All of us want that, me more than anyone.’
PSG are still in this season’s Champions League, having beaten Borussia Dortmund
The French football league took the decision to cancel the 2019-20 season in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 back on April 28.
They decided that Paris Saint-Germain would be declared champions and qualify for the Champions League next season, with Marseille and Rennes also qualifying for Europe’s elite competition.
The Dutch Eredivisie was cancelled without a champion declared and with no relegation though Ajax and AZ Alkmaar will go into the Champions League qualifying stages.
In Belgium, Club Brugge have been confirmed as champions.