The letter, though, does provide more clarity about the direction the industry is looking to move amid daily speculation fueled by nervous executives and sports media. There have been suggestions of voiding entire seasons or deciding final places based on current standings, even though for many leagues there is about a quarter of the campaign remaining. Those games would normally determine not only the final places but also the short-term financial future of the clubs. For instance, qualification for the Champions League can be worth as much as 100 million euros to some teams, and relegation and promotion between tiers can lead to a triple digit swing in revenues, too.
In Belgium, Brugge is 15 points clear in the championship with one regular-season game and playoffs to go. Still, with the league announcing Brugge would be champions subject to the approval of its General Assembly on April 15, the team could be denied a potentially lucrative place in the Champions League should UEFA decide to take action.
The Belgian league issued a statement on Friday, saying it held talks with UEFA over its stance. Officials, it said, called for a flexible approach to the crisis that take account for the specific situation facing each league. In Belgium, the league has already received its full payment from broadcasters.
In England, there has been criticism directed at some clubs who favor calling the season off, and starting again next season, with critics of the move suggesting they were motivated by self-interest. West Ham, a London club just outside of the relegation positions in the Premier League, are among those to have floated the idea. A column penned in U.K. tabloid The Sun by its vice-chairman Karren Brady received opprobrium when it was published last month.
“There is no dodging the possibility that all levels in the EFL, as well as the Premier League, will have to be canceled and this season declared null and void because if the players can’t play the games can’t go ahead,” Brady wrote.
A day later, UEFA on March 17 announced it had postponed its quadrennial European Championship in order to provide more space for league play to return.
“It is of paramount importance that even a disruptive event like this epidemic does not prevent our competitions from being decided on the field, in accordance with their rules and that all sporting titles are awarded on the basis of results,” Thursday’s letter said. “As responsible leaders in our sport, this is what we must ensure, until the last possibility exists and whilst planning, operational and regulatory solutions are available.”