Sports leagues around the world were at different points in their seasons when everything shut down because of the current pandemic.
In the United States, the NBA had about 20 percent of
its games remaining along with the playoffs, while the NHL had about 15 percent of its games remaining plus its playoffs. MLS was just two games into its 34-game season. MLB had not started, while the
NFL, the richest of all leagues, was six months away from restarting and is in potentially the best shape.
In Europe, the five big leagues were at about the same points in their seasons.
Teams had 9-12 league games to play -- about 30 percent of the season -- plus the odd makeup game and European or domestic cup games for those still involved.
For weeks, European
officials have looked at what's the last date before the 2019-20 season must be shut down and they've then worked backwards, examining how many games might they get in and under what circumstances
(with or without fans in the stands).
That means determining a second date -- the great unknown -- the date play can resume.
There is now almost no scenario by which play in
Europe will finish by June 30, the date when current contracts expire. FIFA is expected to make sure that hurdle is overcome by granting clubs the right to keep players under contract until their
current season ends.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin
says there are three dates when play might resume, but he did not role out the remainder of the European season being lost
entirely, or being pushed into next season.
"There is a plan A, B and C, he said. "The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June. There is also the
possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs."
Millions of dollars in TV
revenues are on the line for European clubs, so they are willing to play behind closed doors -- if circumstances allow -- rather than not at all.
In France, the short-term problem is cash
flow. Canal-Plus has told the French league that it will withhold its third and final payment for the 2019-20 season -- 110 million euros ($123 million) -- slated to be paid on April 5 even though
part of the payment covers games already played. (Clubs are paid on a sliding scale that takes into account performance and notoriety.)
"It's hard for me to imagine all the matches behind
closed doors, but we still don't know whether we'll resume, with or without spectators," Ceferin added. "If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships. But I can say that
I don't think about the finals of the European club competitions behind closed doors." What's left in the season ...
England, Premier League
, 9 games + FA quarterfinals, semifinals and final France, Ligue 1
, 10 games + Coupe de France final + Coupe de la Ligue final Germany,
, 9 games + DFB-Pokal semifinals and final Italy, Serie A
, 12 games + Coppa Italia semifinals (2nd leg) and final Spain, LaLiga
, 11 games + Copa del Rey
final Makeup games:
Serie A (4), EPL (2), Bundesliga (1), Ligue 1 (1), LaLiga (0).