Uefa urges associations to complete 2019-20 seasons
European football’s governing body Uefa has called on all of its associations to complete their 2019-20 seasons despite the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
In related news, bookmaker William Hill has revealed its plans for settling outstanding bets on competitions that face being cancelled or ended without all fixtures being completed.
Almost all national associations that are members of Uefa halted play in their domestic competitions last month to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, with the Belarus Premier League currently the only major league in Europe still playing.
Uefa also suspended play across both its Champions League and Europa League cup competitions in mid-March and delayed its 2020 European Championship national team tournament until next year as a result of the outbreak.
Though play remains suspended across almost all countries, Uefa has reiterated its desire for all national leagues in Europe to complete the 2019-20 season and discussed a number of potential options with its 55 members during a video conference call yesterday (21 April).
“There was a strong recommendation given to finish domestic top division and cup competitions, although it is understood that there may be some special cases,” Uefa said.
“With this in mind, Uefa is currently developing some guidelines concerning participation in its club competitions, in order to assist its member associations in case of a cancelled league or cup.”
Uefa added that it would discuss any developments at its executive committee meeting due to take place tomorrow.
England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and the Italian Serie A are among the major leagues that have already expressed their desire to finishing the current campaign, despite their competitions being indefinitely suspended.
However, the Belgian First Division A earlier this month announced an end to its campaign, crowing Club Brugges as 2019-20 champions. Club Brugges was top of the league, 15 points ahead of second, when play was suspended in March. It is not yet clear whether the league will face sanctions from Uefa for ending the season at this time.
Questions have also been raised about the future of this season’s Eredivisie in the Netherlands, after the country’s government extended a ban on all major events until 1 September.
The Royal Dutch Football Association KNVB said that as a result of the ban, it “intends not to continue playing the 2019/20 competition”. However, the KNVB also said it would discuss its options with Uefa before ending the season, while a meeting with clubs and other stakeholders will take place later this week.
A debate is raging over whether to end the Scottish football season. While the country's lower leagues have already been ended, talks are ongoing about a reconstruction of the Scottish Premiership. Some clubs have asked for a final decision – which would see Celtic crowned champions for the eighth consecutive season – until a feasibility study on completing the 2019-20 fixtures has been carried out.
Meanwhile, William Hill has told iGB that it will settle any bets on suspended competitions until a decision over the 2019-20 season is made by the relevant association or organisation.
A spokesperson for the bookmaker said if a league chooses to end a season early and declare a team as champion, it would pay out on bets placed for the team to win the league. If a competition were to be cancelled and no champion declared, it would declare all bets void.
In terms of wagers relating to other criteria such as top goalscorers, qualification for European competitions and relegated teams, the spokesman said William Hill would judge each bet on a case-by-case basis.
Customers unhappy with a decision about a bet would be able to take up their case with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), the alternative betting dispute service, the operator added.