European leagues have until 25 May to tell UEFA whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons. Football is suspended in all European countries apart from Belarus because of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline set by UEFA is referred to in a set of guidelines on ‘eligibility principles’ for European competitions that the governing body’s president and general secretary have sent out to football bodies.
“Given the unforeseen and unprecedented situation […] national associations and leagues are facing a situation whereby the completion of their domestic competitions may be at risk,” they write. Stakeholders are told they “should be in a position to communicate to UEFA by 25 May the planned restart of their domestic competitions, including the date of restart and the relevant competition format”. It adds: “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.” UEFA is understood to have set the date because of its next executive committee meeting two days later, when decisions on the restarting of the Champions League and Europa League may be reached. It is viewed as flexible guidance, rather than a rigid deadline. Last week, after a video call meeting of all 55 national associations, UEFA made clear it wants on-field performance to determine which clubs make up next season’s European club competitions, despite the current shutdown. UEFA urged clubs to “explore all possible options” to finish their seasons. It accepted that in “special cases” some could be cancelled, but asked authorities to use “a different format” if needed in order for teams to qualify for European competitions. If league seasons cannot be finished, it said national associations would need to select clubs to qualify for Europe. UEFA said it could “refuse or evaluate” selected teams if necessary.