Euro 2020 Special

Bundesliga Restart Plan Faces Pushback

The German Bundesliga has its sights set on being the first of the major football leagues to restart after the weeks-long coronavirus-induced pause in play.

But while several SBOTOP Bundesliga fans will be happy to watch some exciting German football games again, not everyone seems to be on board with that plan.

Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert confirmed a few weeks ago that the league was planning to resume the season in early May and will hopefully conclude by the end of June.

However, German fan groups have voiced their displeasure at the league’s plans to start playing games again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ultras believe that using tests on players in order to play football would be a socially irresponsible use of resources during this time.

The “ghost game” between Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Koln — the final match before the break in play — was the first-ever Bundesliga match played with no fans, and they are not keen on that being the norm moving forward.

“Quarantine for football, ghost games are no solution,” a statement published on several ultra groups’ websites said on Thursday. “The restart of football is unacceptable in the current situation, especially not under the pretext of social responsibility.”

“A speedy continuation of the season would be a mockery of the rest of society.”

Christian Strohdiek, captain of Bundesliga side Paderborn, also expressed his reservations about playing football again in these difficult times.

“Schools are closed and so many people stay at home, and [yet we are talking about starting] to play football,” he said. “We want to play football and we want to finish the season but in this moment it’s very difficult to believe we can start to play.

“It’s a strange situation because we love this game – but it’s a game. If someone is sick, it is more important that they get the testing.”

Teams have already been training for the past couple of weeks but only in smaller groups while also upholding strict hygiene protocols to avoid infections.

Bayern Munich players celebrate during one of their Bundesliga games this season
                                                            Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal

Germany is easing social distancing restrictions and slowly opening the country back up starting this week. But it has extended the ban on large public events, which includes football matches, until August 31.

That means if the Bundesliga pushes through with its plan to resume in May, it will play matches with no fans in the stadiums.

It might come as a surprise that the supposedly “hardcore” ultras are against having football back, but their concerns about the Bundesliga’s plans to return are certainly warranted.

While Germany has handled the coronavirus crisis better than most countries in Europe, it would make more sense to try and get the rest of society back to normal instead of diverting valuable medical resources toward restarting the Bundesliga.

However, some fans may not realise the serious financial pressures German clubs face to restart the season.

German newspaper Bild had big Bundesliga 2020 news claiming broadcaster Sky Deutschland had paid the fourth and final payment of €304 million to the clubs for the television rights this season. However, the German Football League denied that a deal had already been struck.

“The DFL is in talks with all media partners,” the DFL said in a tweet. “There is still no contractual agreement with Sky.”

A recent report from Kicker magazine claims that 13 of the 36 Bundesliga and second division clubs are in danger of bankruptcy due to the coronavirus pandemic if they do not receive that final TV rights payment.

The DFL is set to hold a virtual general assembly on April 23, which should shed more light into the Bundesliga’s proposed restart plans.

Like many other domestic football leagues, the Bundesliga is in a difficult spot as it faces an unprecedented situation at the moment. They must weigh the financial situations of their clubs with the backlash of playing football amid a pandemic.

The fans have already made their feelings about the issue heard. But with so much money on the line, the Bundesliga 2020 predictions are more likely to favour the league resuming sooner rather than later. 

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