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Long Road Back: Could Take ‘2 or 3 Years’ For Football to Get Back to Normal

Lars-Christer Olsson, executive committee member of UEFA, predicted a grim future for football and suggested a ‘wait and see’ policy to resume. As the Premier League launches ‘Project Restart’, its ambitious plan to complete the current season, Ligue 1 have called an end to theirs and declared PSG champions of France.
UEFA football restart post Covid-19 lockdown

UEFA has scheduled the completion of the Champions League and Europa League in August and take a final call in May (Pic: Twitter, Bloomberg).

The return of organised sport will be on a ‘wait and see’ schedule, Lars-Christer Olsson, executive committee member of UEFA, said on a Soccerex webinar yesterday. In an extensive conversation, Olsson also discussed the aftershocks of football’s disruption and how it may go on to affect the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Olsson also said he would ‘rather see a scenario where the current season is not finished than not kicking off the new season’, presumably to hold together the shreds of a timetable ripped after by the coronavirus pandemic.

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“For the time being we are planning, trying to squeeze in the rest of the season 2019-20 in the month of August. But of course we have to take decisions about that at the end of May at least because otherwise it will probably not be possible to squeeze it in and also to qualify the clubs for the new season,” Olsson said. He clearly intimated that it may take the international calendar two or three years to normalise following suspensions and postponements of the European Championships for the men and women.

Meanwhile, many leagues around Europe are hoping to complete their suspended seasons soon. UEFA themselves have scheduled the completion of the Champions League and Europa League in August and will decide in May whether this is feasible.

In England, a decision on restarting sport behind closed doors will be taken when the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health meet on Friday.

However, any relaxations the Premier League, horse racing, cricket and rugby are expected to get when their representatives attend the meeting, will only come after the government announces its broader plans to ease Britain’s lockdown status on May 7.

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Premier League clubs will be briefed on ‘Project Restart’ -- an ambitious plan to complete the current season -- in a separate meeting to be held on May 7 morning. This includes taking a decision on whether games can be planned to be played on neutral territory.

Two of Europe’s top leagues, the Dutch Eredivisie and Ligue 1 in France have already declared an end to their season. While the Eredivisie have declared all results null and void and have not crowned champions, Ligue 1 has crowned PSG champions based on their current standings.

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