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How Should the DFL and DFB Finish the Bundesliga Season?

Now there’s a question. If only the answer was a straightforward one!

For we are in an unprecedented situation and football has been very much put on the backburner.

Today’s confirmation that the finals of both major European club competitions have been postponed merely confirm the uncertainty football, indeed the globe, is currently facing.

The dilemma facing the Bundesliga governing body, about both that competition and the German Cup, is, to an extent, out of their hands.

We don’t know when 2019/20 will resume, if at all, as mentioned last week.

We don’t know when the next tranche of Bundesliga highlights will arrive.

Containing the coronavirus is the highest priority in all areas of life. Of course, this also applies to Bundesliga 2.

In view of the very dynamic pace of events, the Ordinary Assembly of the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga has been considering the effects with the focus on the possibilities for enabling sporting competition, as well as the economic basics, since the clubs and their subsidiaries employ around 56,000 people directly and indirectly.

One certainty at a time of such uncertainty is that the DFL does not expect that it will be possible to resume playing matches on the first weekend in April.

At the same time, clubs and the DFL are intensifying their already close exchange with the health authorities responsible for the respective venues of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, as well as the Federal Ministry of Health, to have the best possible assessment of the situation at all times.

Thousands will be affected if the Bundesliga will end prematurely
Bundesliga fans watching from the stands

So how should the season be concluded?

Well ideally, with competitive football. The Cup has reached the semi-finals stage with minnows Saarbrucken, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt in the last four. Three games, possibly behind closed doors, could ultimately complete that competition.

As for the league, that is not as straightforward.

The title race is far from over, although champions Bayern now have a four-point lead and are firm favourites to retain the prize.

The race for the Champions League qualification is, effectively, between five sides for four spots but the race for the Europa League is not as clear cut with anywhere up to about half a dozen sides still in contention.

Likewise, at the bottom of the table, apart from bottom club SC Paderborn, you can’t rule out either Fortuna Dusseldorf or Werder Bremen pulling clear of the danger zone.
Each side has nine, in some cases, 10 league fixtures remaining.

So, what to do?

‘The league might have to make some unpopular decisions,’ were the words delivered by Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert earlier today.

‘One of those decisions could include finishing the season behind closed doors.’

I suggest that seems the best-case scenario right now. Certainly, there is little optimism that it can be concluded in front of fans.

Reports suggest finishing the season will be crucial for the league and that it stands to lose in the region of €770 million should it be cancelled. Most of the deficit would come from the loss of television money, which presents the foundation for the financial security of most clubs.

Some Bundesliga clubs would be able to hold out financially until the end of the year should there be no more football. Those clubs include the very smallest that have many players signed on loan and, as a result, do not have a significant wage budget.

Meanwhile, the leading clubs like Bayern and Borussia Dortmund expect to run a deficit but also have enough savings to survive for a significant period without football.

Other teams have big problems, however. At least two Bundesliga sides could face insolvency should the league not be concluded.

With this in mind, the Bundesliga has come up with an emergency plan to finish the season to guarantee that clubs will receive television money.

The DFL is even considering booking hotels at two to three locations in Germany where clubs would be quarantined and then driven directly to the stadium and back.

This way the league could play several games per day. Clubs would play every 48 hours, which would allow the league to finish the season – although hardly ideal and a big advantage for those with deep pockets and bigger squads.

Yet it is apparently one of three possible scenarios the league is currently considering.

Whatever happens, considering Bavaria was one of the first states to issue strict stay at home orders on Friday, it’s unlikely the Bundesliga will finish the league in normal fashion before the June 30 deadline.
In what has become the new norm, these are far from normal times.

 

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