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Football after coronavirus: Bundesliga aim for May 9 restart; Eredivisie suspended until September 1

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Hmmm

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session
Thomas Müller at Bayern practice last week
Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Massive news out of the Netherlands yesterday, with the Prime Minister announcing a ban on all public events until September 1st due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of whether they be held behind closed doors or not.

While this technically does not cancel the rest of the 2019-20 Eredivisie season, it more than likely will come to that. The league is set to talk with UEFA this week before a crisis meeting of all Dutch teams on Friday.

The Eredivisie’s official stance remains that they want to finish the 2019-20 season, but if they cannot even start playing the remaining games until September, it’s hard to see them navigate not only the sporting waters (alignment with other leagues that might be starting new seasons by then) but all the legal and contractual issues (for example, what would happen with Hakim Ziyech, if Ajax were playing 2019-20 in September but Chelsea were already in 2020-21?).

If the Eredivisie were to abandon the season, the biggest question — and one that all other leagues would be closely watching, including the Premier League — would be whether to award the title to Ajax (who are currently on top) and how to handle relegation, promotion, and European places for next season. Most reports expect Ajax to be given the title, but the other questions are far less straightforward and, in a way, much more important overall. (And that would be precisely the situation in the Premier League as well, which remains in a holding pattern as of right now.)

The timing of the Dutch announcement was particularly surprising given that in neighboring Germany, the Bundesliga is gearing up for a return with “ghost games” (Geisterspiele) in a couple weeks (and the Austrian Bundesliga are not far behind either). While this could be regional in nature to some extent, leading political voices in Bavaria are talking up this date as a serious possibility.

The German FA will be hearing “a detailed, binding concept with strict hygiene requirements, necessary tests and permanent monitoring” in Thursday’s general meeting from the DFB’s chief medical officer on Thursday. If approved, games could start going ahead shortly with a maximum of 300 people in the stadium and the immediate surrounding area combined: 100 each on (and around) the pitch, in the stands, and outside. The plan will include provisions on how to handle a potential positive test as well.