The Bundesliga could be the first of Europe’s major leagues to take back to the field as May 9 has gained support as a possible return date following the coronavirus suspension.
Germany’s top flight was suspended alongside most major divisions in mid-March, and regional leaders have thrown their weight behind the argument for matches to return next month behind closed doors.
Bavarian Prime Minister, Markus Soder, and North Rhine-Westphalia counterpart, Armin Laschet, spoke at a summit organised by Bild and backed plans to return on May 9. Laschet said:
"The prerequisite is that there is a well thought-out concept. What the DFL has presented these days shows that protective measures are in place. I could imagine that we can go back to the state of the games with no fans.”
ESPN’s Taylor Twellman acknowledged Bundesliga organisers—as well as the German government—still had to agree to the blueprint but that things were looking positive:
Ticket revenue is one area where clubs don't look likely to recover funds for some time without grants. Authorities in Berlin ruled on Thursday that matches cannot be played with fans in attendance for at least six months, per ESPN's Dale Johnson:
Germany has drawn a lot of praise for its rigorous approach to testing in an effort to fight COVID-19.
The country has seen 5,250 deaths as a result of the respiratory illness as of Wednesday evening, per the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. This puts it at around eighth in the list of worst-affected countries even though it’s reported more than 157,000 confirmed cases—only the United States, Spain and Italy have recorded more.
It was stressed at the Bundesliga summit that games must be played behind closed doors if matches are to resume, with Soder adding it was “completely unthinkable” to have fans present.
UEFA announced on Wednesday that there was a “strong recommendation” among its 55 member associations to finish this season, though a meeting of the DFL (Germany’s Football League) on Thursday is expected to reveal more regarding the Bundesliga’s next step.
The Bundesliga title race has provided a fair share of drama already this season, making the league's return even more highly anticipated. Despite the usual suspects, Bayern Munich, ascending to the first spot recently, the top 4 squads are separated by a mere 6 points.
Thanks to the dominant play of their two 19-year-olds, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, second-place Dortmund have won four straight and seven of their last eight matches. Meanwhile, recent Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig are pinning their hopes on the return of form for sought-after star Timo Werner, who is still within shouting distance of Robert Lewandowski for the league's golden boot.