Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

La Liga eyeing May return, says league boss Javier Tebas

Tebas also warned Spanish clubs could lose as much as €1 billion (Dh3.97bn) if the season is not completed

La Liga president Javier Tebas says the cost of not finishing the season could be as much as €1 billion. AP Photo
La Liga president Javier Tebas says the cost of not finishing the season could be as much as €1 billion. AP Photo

La Liga president Javier Tebas is optimistic football could return at the end of next month following the coronavirus shutdown.

Tebas also warned Spanish clubs could lose as much as €1 billion (Dh3.97bn) if the season is not completed, urging the league to use the summer months to ensure a finish to the 2019/20 campaign to mitigate financial losses.

"The different scenarios we have been looking at with Uefa to go back to competing are most probably starting on the May 29 June 6-7 or June 28," Tebas said.

Most football in Europe shut down as countries struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak, meaning rival leagues like the Premier League in England and Italy's Serie A also face a backlog of fixtures.

"We're not just looking at what happens in Spain ... the job is to get all our calendars [in Europe] in line so all the competitions are able to finish together," Tebas added.

While some countries, notably Germany, have allowed some teams to return to training under restrictive measures, Tebas said no team training could take place until after the state of emergency ends in Spain - currently set until April 26. Should that end date be pushed back the chances of restarting in May would likely vanish.

Tebas said "it is not an option" to cancel the season given the massive hit to revenue Spain's top clubs would have to absorb, with €150 million gone even if La Liga finishes the season with fans at matches.

"We are not considering at all that we will not get back to playing matches," he said.

"It is not just league revenues, it is league revenues plus all the other revenue from the Champions League that teams wouldn't receive.

"We are talking about €1 billion if we don't get back to playing, €300 million if we play behind closed doors and €150 million if we do to get back to playing with fans."

Fixtures are expected to be held behind closed doors, at least at first, with some Spanish clubs facing the prospect of playing away from their own grounds due to scheduled building work.

"The last businesses that will return to normal are theatres, cinemas, events that people attend," said Tebas. "We are an industry like that but we can resume part of our activity without people because the fundamental part of our income comes from TV."

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced later on Tuesday that a committee including representatives from the Players' Union (AFE) and La Liga had agreed summer matches would be played every 72 hours at most and with two drinks breaks in each half due to heat.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed nearly 14,000 people in Spain, the world's second hardest-hit country after Italy in terms of deaths.

Updated: April 7, 2020 07:13 PM

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