No top-flight games in France until earliest 15 April, says LFP president

Guardian sport on 18 March 2020

There will be no games in the top two French leagues until 15 April at the earliest, the Ligue de Football Professionel president, Nathalie Boy de la Tour, has said.

Ligue 1 and 2 were suspended indefinitely last week and there had been some suggestions that it might start up again in early April but the league ruled that out on Wednesday.

“If the [French government’s] containment period lasts 15 days, and we add two weeks of training before that, we could resume around 15 April. We can anticipate everything, but above all we have to adapt and remain pragmatic,” Boy de la Tour said.

She added: “The administrative council meeting on Tuesday said the top priority was to complete the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 campaigns, in view of the sporting and economic stakes involved. This is vital for the future of the clubs and French football.

“We will be able to move away from the framework that says the leagues play at the weekend and Uefa plays during the week. It was agreed this morning that everyone could play whenever they wanted to finish their competitions.”

Fifa has agreed to delay the first edition of its revamped Club World Cup, due to be held in 2021, to make way for the Euro 2020 and Copa América tournaments which have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fifa said in a statement on Wednesday that it would "decide at a later stage when to schedule the new Club World Cup which was due to take place in June/July 2021."

The new-look 24-team tournament, the brainchild of Fifa president Gianni Infantino, would be the biggest so far, taking place across eight Chinese cities, and including eight teams from Europe with six from South America. Until now, the competition has featured seven teams in total.

Fifa has also set up a working group to consider possible changes to transfer regulations amid fears that players whose contracts end during the stoppage could lose their jobs. Fifa said it wanted to "protect contracts for both players and clubs and adjusting player registration periods."

The group would also consider creating a fund to compensate those in football who suffer financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Reuters

Regarding a date for the end of the season, Didier Quillot, the executive director of the LFP, said: “We’ve made it a major principle to do everything we can to finish on 30 June. The goal is 30, but if we have to finish later, we’ll adapt, with the clubs and the players. We’ll play as much as we can.”

Paris Saint-Germain, the reigning champions, are 12 points clear of second-placed Marseille. PSG, who have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, have 11 games remaining, and Marseille 10.

Serie A club Cagliari said their first team would resume training on Monday and that players would be divided into small groups to respect social distancing guidelines.

Italy has emerged as the worst-hit country outside China with 35,713 confirmed cases and 2,978 deaths as of Wednesday. Serie A was the first of the big five European national leagues to be suspended.

The Sardinian club are ready to re-start training despite the Italian players’ union (AIC) statement that teams should not train at present.

“We have denounced the behaviour of some clubs because they even want the players to train during these days,” AIC president Damiano Tommasi said on Monday. The players should also stay at home in this situation.”

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