Play-offs could decide Champions League and Europa League qualification in countries across Europe should the impact of the coronavirus pandemic force domestic leagues to be cut short, UEFA has said– By Enock Mukoma
The executive committee of European football’s governing body set out guidelines on Thursday for its member associations on how qualification for the 2020-21 continental competitions could be determined in those leagues unable to play the 2019-20 season to a finish.
It stated that if competitions cannot be completed in full, then the next option should be to restart “with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit”.
It leaves it open to its associations to decide on an appropriate format, but it could mean the introduction of mini-leagues or play-offs featuring teams in the mix for Champions League or Europa League qualification.
Competitions which cannot restart at all must provide “legitimate” grounds for doing so. This would be either an order from government or other authority prohibiting sporting activity from taking place, or an insurmountable economic problem which makes finishing the season impossible, because it would threaten the long-term financial stability of a competition or its clubs.
In those circumstances, clubs must decide its European qualifiers in an “objective, transparent and non-discriminatory way”.