UEFA are considering staging the Champions League semifinals and final over two weekends in Istanbul in a bid to ensure that the 2019-20 competition reaches a conclusion amid the global Coronavirus crisis, sources have told ESPN. The fate of this season’s Champions League and Europa League, as well as the staging of Euro 2020, will be discussed during a video conference of the 55 European football associations on Tuesday.
UEFA are ready to accept the inevitability of having to postpone Euro 2020 and reschedule the tournament for the summer of 2021 due to the logistical difficulties of staging the competition in June and July, with medical experts predicting that the continent will still be in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.
And sources have told ESPN that, by clearing the summer schedule of international football, UEFA believes that a solution can be found in terms of completing the Champions League and Europa League competitions if the pandemic subsides sufficiently in order for games to go ahead. If both competitions are able to resume, it is understood that they will do so with quarterfinals played over one leg, though several round-of-16 ties still need to be completed.
But there are many issues to resolve for this solution to be viable, with clubs having to accept a potential loss in earnings and broadcasters being willing to show fewer live games than contractually obliged. UEFA must also find a way to stage one-legged ties, in terms of finding neutral venues or imposing a “first out of the hat” order to any draw.
There is also the problem of the host city or country allowing games to be played, especially if travel restrictions and self-isolation measures remain in place. The Champions League final is currently scheduled for the Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul on May 30.
With discussions likely to be extremely complex, sources have told ESPN that while Tuesday may see a resolution to the issue of Euro 2020, it may require negotiations between the clubs, national associations and UEFA to continue throughout this week before a plan is rolled out for the Champions League and Europa League.