La Liga targets June return as Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad request Copa del Rey final to be played in front of fans
Spanish football has been suspended since early March due to the coronavirus outbreak
Spanish football authorities on Monday outlined plans to resume La Liga in June as players return this week for individual training, two months after the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Individual training will begin for players this week after the country's government lifted sport-related measures.
"People's health is paramount, so we have a comprehensive protocol to safeguard the health of everyone involved as we work to restart La Liga," league president Javier Tebas said in the statement.
"Circumstances are unprecedented, but we hope to start playing again in June and finish our 19/20 season this summer."
From Tuesday, professional footballers in Spain will undergo tests for Covid-19 and will only be allowed to return to training once a negative result is produced.
In April, Tebas said the Spanish top-flight and second division could start on May 28-29, June 6-7 or June 28-29 and could be played behind closed doors.
Yet, while football's resumption in Spain will be dependent on games taking place in empty stadiums, Copa del Rey finalists Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao issued a joint request to play the historic match in front of fans - a request that has received support from the Spanish football federation (RFEF).
The clubs said in a joint press release that they had met with Luis Rubiales, the president of the RFEF, who had agreed to ask the general assembly on May 8, if the final could be played with open doors.
The RFEF responded with a statement of its own, saying it "fully shares the desire" of the two clubs to play the final "when health and sporting circumstances allow ... open to the public and in the presence of fans and all those who wish to attend".
This would be the first all-Basque final in the history of the competition.
"The desire and will of both clubs has always been, now and before, to play and enjoy the final match along with the supporters," they said in a joint English-language press release. "This is what we would like most. A final to be lived with our supporters in the stands."
The match was originally scheduled for April 18 in Seville at the Olympic Stadium, known as La Cartuja. No new date has been fixed.
The two Basque clubs said they wanted guarantees that "the final will be played as an official competition and will, therefore, be considered an official title."
The RFEF also supported that request, saying it will take steps to ensure the final was "an official competition at the appropriate time during 2020 or 2021 and before the Final of the 2020/2021 season."
It said it would agree with the two clubs "the most convenient date for this Final to be a great celebration of Spanish football."
The governing body of European football, Uefa, has said that places in next season's continental club competitions will be awarded "on sporting merit", if domestic competitions cannot be completed.
Real Sociedad, fourth in La Liga when play was suspended, would qualify for the Champions League. But, without a cup final, the last Spanish Europa League place would probably go to the team seventh in the table. Athletic, 10th in the standings, have said they are in "deep disagreement" with this solution.
The clubs said that by sharing the final "together with their fans, supporters, subscribers, members and partners" they would be celebrating "the true essence, and raison d'etre of this wonderful sport".
Updated: May 5, 2020 09:18 AM