Uefa sets May 25 deadline for European leagues restart plans

Any league cancelling its season will need to produce a list of teams that have qualified for European club competitions, also by May 25

Uefa has set European football leagues a May 25 deadline to inform the governing body whether they plan to restart their domestic seasons.

Almost all leagues across Europe ground to a halt last month as countries attempted to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While outliers like the Belarus league continue despite the outbreak of Covid-19, major leagues in England, France, Italy and Spain are yet to resume, though some clubs are allowing their players to use their training facilities under strict health measures.

The only league to pencil in a return date so far has been Germany, which hopes to resume matches in its top two divisions starting May 9 as the country eases social distancing restrictions.

Uefa is keen to start planning for next season's European club tournaments. In a letter to 55 member associations, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin wrote that any league cancelling its season would need to produce a list of teams that have qualified for European club competitions, also by May 25.

"National Associations and/or Leagues should be in a position to communicate to Uefa by 25 May 2020 the planned restart of their domestic competitions including the date of restart and the relevant competition format," Ceferin wrote.

"In the event that a domestic competition is to be prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons ... Uefa would require the National Association to explain by 25 May 2020 the special circumstances justifying such premature termination and to select clubs for the Uefa club competitions 2020/21 on the basis of sporting merit in the 2019/20 domestic competitions," he added.

Like all major sport, football has been brought to a virtual standstill by the pandemic, with even major tournaments, such as Uefa's Euro 2020, postponed for one year, and continental club competitions put on hold.

While Uefa wants its member associations to complete their seasons, several, including Belgium and the Netherlands, have cancelled their seasons or declared them null and void, meaning no titles awarded and no relegations or promotions – a decision strongly criticised by some of the affected clubs.