The French prime minister has said the 2019-20 season will end, but in Spain players could return to training in May
The French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, has announced big sporting affairs including professional football cannot return in the country until September and the 2019-20 season in Ligue 1 and 2 will therefore end immediately.
Matches in France have been suspended since the start of March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with several players having agreed to defer up to 50% of their salaries to help their clubs through the crisis after broadcasters initially withheld TV rights.
Whereas Germanys Bundesliga looks set to resume next month behind closed doors, Philippes speech to the National Assembly on Tuesday confirmed that France was unwilling to risk a further outbreak by sanctioning the return of professional sport.
The big sporting affairs cannot occur before September, he said. The 2019-20 professional football season cannot return. Philippe added that the same would apply to any events that bring together more than 5,000 participants.
The leagues governing body, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), is expected to meet next month to discuss how to end the season and resolve issues such as Champions League qualification, promotion and relegation. In the Netherlands the Eredivisie season was cancelled without any champions being crowned and with all 18 teams remaining in the division next season.
Last week, broadcasters BeIN Sports and Canal+ agreed a compromise that will see them pay the LFP a portion of the TV rights having withheld around 130m when fixtures were initially suspended. The remaining amount is due at the end of June but clubs are understood to have been informed that they will be paid in full despite the failure to resume playing.
We respect of course the French government decision, said PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who added that the team intend to play in the Champions League, if it is rescheduled. The remaining games may be played at neutral venues, with PSG, the defending French champions and league leaders, willing to travel abroad to take part if necessary.
Elsewhere, La Ligas hopes of completing the 2019-20 season were given a boost when the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Snchez, announced that professional athletes will be able to return to training on 4 May.
Snchez said that sports people, including footballers, will be authorised to begin individual sessions as part of a four-stage plan to ease the national lockdown. The government will begin with phase zero and hopes to conclude with phase three and a return to some semblance of normality in late June.
While the application of those rules is yet to be fully fleshed out in regard to how it applies to professional football clubs, the announcement broadly fits with the leagues protocol for a return to training. Players would begin with individual work, following that with group sessions and then full team training.
In his daily news conference, Snchez explained that phase zero would allow for basic sessions for professional athletes, while phase one would see the reopening of high performance centres and mixed training sessions. Phase two would authorise open air activities with fewer than 400 people in attendance just above the numbers La Liga believe will be necessary for competitive matches to resume.
At the weekend, the minister of health Salvador Illa had refused to commit to La Liga being able to return before the autumn. La Liga players and doctors have previously expressed concerns about the Spanish league rushing into a return.