UEFA plans Champions League final for August but Eredivisie looks done

Published on: April 22, 2020
Author: Jamie Clark
Champions League final planned for 29 August by UEFA

European football’s governing body, UEFA, is still planning for the 2020 Champions League final on 29 August.

This follows a video conference involving all 55 member states where ways to finish the 2019-20 season were outlined.

The plans all involve club football in Europe resuming in June. It has since emerged, however, that the Dutch Eredivisie “intends not to continue” the campaign.

Although not one of European football’s top five leagues and none of the country’s clubs remain active in the Champions League or Europa League, the decision is out of football authorities’ hands due to directives from the Netherlands national government.

The state has extended its ban on major events and mass gatherings until 1 September. The Dutch FA (KNVB) will consult UEFA before officially cancelling the Eredivisie.

Detailed planning of how to finish the 2019-20 season remains impossible. With each member state having to follow government policy, UEFA has now accepted it may not be feasible for all countries to finish their domestic leagues and cup competitions.

“There was a strong recommendation given to finish domestic top divisions, but some special cases will be heard,” a UEFA statement read.

The governing body will now have to draw up guidelines about how to determine participation in next season’s European club competitions from countries where the league has cancelled.

UEFA clearly did not want it to come to this. However, all leagues will have to present reasons for not completing the season.

There is also a wider issue with European qualification for 2020-21. Many smaller countries go through preliminary and early qualifying rounds for the Champions League and Europa League.

Headache of Champions League final overlap

These begin in June, yet the 2020 Champions League final is pencilled in for a time in UEFA’s calendar when the following campaign’s play-offs have normally been completed. This is a major logistical headache.

European football nations face international travel when that might not be permitted by the states of countries the away teams are visiting. UEFA also has to look at how they get the current Champions League and Europa League campaigns complete.

Clubs from France, Spain, England, Italy and Germany remain active in the Champions League. In the Europa League, meanwhile, the number of countries involved is even greater.

Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine have active participants here. There are no deadlines on solving these issues.

Besides the usual use of midweeks between domestic fixtures on weekends, UEFA could opt to conclude the Champions League and Europa League after these are complete. Travel restrictions may be eased by late summer.

That is why the Champions League final has that tentative 29 August date. No international football – including World Cup qualifiers and Euro play-offs – will happen until at least September.

However, the latter looks set to be completed at the earliest opportunity. This will give national teams who qualify the best chance to prepare for the delayed Euro finals in the summer of 2021.

UEFA could reduce the regular international breaks in September, October and November, however, in order to offset the delay to its club competitions. A revised calendar of fixtures needs drawing up.

There is so much to do – most of it complex – that the road to the Champions League final still looks very rocky.