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UEFA formally postpones May’s Champions League, Europa League finals

NYON: UEFA announced on Monday that this season’s Champions League, Europa League and women’s Champions League finals scheduled for May have been formally postponed, an inevitable move with European football in total shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All three competitions are currently suspended along with almost every European domestic league because of the coronavirus while UEFA last week postponed the Euro 2020 tournament until next year.

The shutdown has no end in sight though UEFA and European football leaders said last week they hope to complete the club season by June 30.

The Euro 2020 for national teams was postponed for one year to clear space in the fixture calendar for clubs to win titles in domestic leagues and cups, and UEFA’s competitions.

“No decision has been taken on rearranged dates,” European football’s governing body UEFA said in a statement. It also did not say whether it would be able to complete the competitions in the current format or would have to shorten them.

After consulting European football officials on March 17, UEFA created a working group chaired by its president Aleksander Ceferin to look at rescheduling this season’s games. UEFA said that panel would make more announcements in due course.

“The working group, established last week as a result of the conference call among the stakeholders of European football, which was chaired by UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, will analyse the options available,” UEFA said. “The group has already begun its examination of the calendar. Announcements will be made in due course.”

The Champions League was halted halfway through the return legs of the round of 16 with four ties still to be decided. The final was due to take place at Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium on May 30.

Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain, Atalanta and RB Leipzig are the four teams to have so far booked their places in the Champions League quarter-finals.

More financial pain for UEFA and Europe’s major clubs could be on the horizon if the Champions League cannot be completed.

Last season UEFA paid out 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in prize money and TV revenue to clubs competing in the Champions League.

Some media reports have suggested ties from the quarter-finals onwards could be reduced to one-off games rather than two legs, while the semi-finals and finals could come together like a “final four” format often used in basketball in Istanbul.

“Without any prejudice, those are also options,” Ceferin said last week. “We have different options, but really it’s far too early to be concrete. Whatever we decide, nothing is sure because we don’t know when this COVID-19 will stop and allow us to play.”

The Europa League final was due to be held in Gdansk, Poland, on May 27 and the women’s Champions League final was scheduled for May 24 in Vienna, Austria.

The Europa League is also frozen at the Round of 16 stage, with six of the eight first-leg games played.

The Women’s Champions League was about to start the quarter-finals stage.

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