AGENCIES The Bundesliga season will restart on May 16, the German football league has confirmed, after the government gave the green light on a return to action.
The government said the Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga could re-start in the second half of May without spectators, adding the German football league (DFL) would decide on the exact dates.
Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert has said the top-tier season will finish on June 27, with the second division campaign concluding on June 28. Fans will not be allowed to gather outside stadiums, he added.
There will be two weeks in which midweek games are played to allow Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt to fulfil their game in hand.
League organisers are currently considering allowing teams to use five substitutes during the remaining fixtures.
Football in Germany has been suspended since mid-March, with coronavirus having infected over 150,000 people in the country so far. Almost 6,300 people have died of the disease in Germany.
The league is the first of any of Europe’s major leagues to be given clearance to resume playing, since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Two of Germany’s neighbours, the Netherlands and France, have ended their seasons.
Matches in Germany’s top two divisions can take place later this month, without spectators.
Chancellor Angela Merkel says Bundesliga players and staff will not have to quarantine for 14 days because of the clubs’ regular testing capacity.
“Testing is regular there, so the quarantine period is not set to 14 days,” she said.
Minister President of Bavaria, Markus Soder, accepts the decision to resume will be seen as controversial.
“We have agreed sensibly. We know that it is very controversial,” he added.
“I know that those responsible in the clubs will do everything possible to comply with the regulations. But the players must also adhere to it.”
The Bundesliga’s General Assembly will be held in Frankfurt on Thursday to discuss the health and safety protocol to ensure the league’s safe return. They are expected to decide on the start date and match calendar in that meeting.
The majority of Bundesliga clubs have nine matches left to play in this campaign – Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen have 10 – with leaders Bayern Munich four points ahead of Borussia Dortmund in second.
The league’s potential return had been under scrutiny after Cologne reported three people at the club had tested positive for coronavirus last week and Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou was suspended after ignoring social distancing measures at the club’s training ground.
Former Chelsea player Kalou, 34, was seen shaking hands with his Hertha team-mates and interrupting a medical check-up of another.
Soder described the incident as an “own goal”, saying: “The video by the Hertha BSC player there was already an own goal. The players have to stick to the requirements just like other citizens!”