Europe considers Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, and even finishing 2019-20 play next season

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, Bundesliga, 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).
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