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UEFA president warns season may be lost because of coronavirus pandemic

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has delivered the stark warning that this season could be “lost” if football does not resume by the end of June.

Every professional league in Europe, with the exception of the Vysheyshaya Liga in Belarus, has been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no date yet in place for a return to action.

UEFA has already suspended the Champions League and Europa League, and also postponed the planned May finals in Istanbul and Gdansk respectively, as result of the COVID-19 crisis.

But although every major league currently remains committed to finishing the 2019-20 season at some stage, Ceferin has said that time may ultimately run out.

“Nobody knows when the pandemic will end,” Ceferin told La Repubblica. “We have a plan A, B or C: to restart in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.

“If then we wouldn’t be able to do any of these, the season would probably be lost.

“There is also the possibility of ending this season at the start of the next, which would then be postponed, starting a little later.

“We are in touch with the leagues and the club — there is a working group. We’ll see what solution is best for all. We have to wait, like any other sector.”

With many countries either in a state of lockdown or having imposed social distancing measures, the prospect of football in full stadiums would appear an unlikely scenario in the weeks and months ahead.

And Ceferin admits that, when football does resume, it may have to be done behind closed doors, simply to get fixtures played as quickly as possible.

“It’s difficult to imagine all the games behind closed doors, but right now we don’t even know if we will resume, with or without fans,” Ceferin said.

“If there are no other alternatives, it would still be better to conclude the leagues. I can say that I’m not thinking about staging the European cup finals behind closed doors.

“In this dramatic moment, the most important thing is health, and to get out of this crisis. The interruption of football symbolises that Europe and the world have stopped.

“European football is strongly united.”

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