UEFA chief hopes Champions League will finish by ‘end of August’

Aleksander Ceferin
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Updated 21 May 2020

UEFA chief hopes Champions League will finish by ‘end of August’

  • Football with fans will be back soon, says Aleksander Ceferin

LISBON: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is aiming to finish this year’s Champions League by the end of August as football in Europe slowly starts to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our plan is to finish it between now and the end of August,” Ceferin said in an interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, published on Wednesday.

“I think that will work. You never know what’s going to happen but things seem to be calming down.

“Eighty percent of European leagues are going to restart, I don’t see why the Champions League and Europa League shouldn’t take place.”

The end date for UEFA’s European tournaments was widely reported but never officially confirmed by the continent’s football governing body.

Ceferin’s desired deadline gives clubs a chance to finish their domestic competitions — halted across Europe in mid-March — before the Champions League restarts in early August.

In an interview with British daily The Guardian, Ceferin added that he would be prepared to bet a million dollars on Euro 2020 being played next year following its postponement to 2021.

“Yes, I would,” he told the newspaper “I don’t know why it (the tournament) wouldn’t be (played).

“I don’t think that this virus will last forever. I think it will (change) sooner than many think.

“I don’t like this apocalyptic view that we have to wait for the second and third waves or even a fifth wave.”

Ceferin said football would follow the recommendations of the authorities but he was optimistic that fans would return to the stands quicker than many observers think.

“I’m absolutely sure, personally, that good old football with fans will come back very soon,” he said.

And Ceferin said he did not expect the game to be profoundly changed by the coronavirus.

“Football didn’t change after the Second World War, or First World War, and it will not change because of a virus either,” he said.


Man City’s court triumph set to intensify race for top 4 places in Premier League

Updated 14 July 2020

Man City’s court triumph set to intensify race for top 4 places in Premier League

  • The fight for a top-five finish has reverted back to needing to be in the top four to join champion Liverpool and City, already secured in second place

LONDON: Manchester City’s success in overturning its Champions League ban on Monday has huge ramifications on the Premier League and the remaining two teams that will qualify for Europe’s top club competition.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester — and maybe Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United, too — are now fighting for two qualifying spots instead of three with two weeks of the season remaining.

The fight for a top-five finish has reverted back to needing to be in the top four to join champion Liverpool and City, already secured in second place, in earning tens of millions of dollars in UEFA prize money next season.

The most concerned team is likely to be Leicester.

In the top four since September — and, in December, even looking like the most realistic title challenger to Liverpool — Leicester have imploded, collecting only two wins from their last 11 league games stretching back to the end of January.

After losing to relegation-threatened Bournemouth 4-1 on Sunday, Leicester will find themselves  in fifth place if Man United beat  Southampton on Monday.

United appears much more likely to secure a top-four finish and return to the Champions League after a season’s absence.

With four straight wins ahead of the Southampton game, United are the form team in the league and also has the most benign remaining schedule with upcoming matches against Crystal Palace and West Ham before what could be a winner-takes-all game game at Leicester on the final weekend of the season.

Making it all the more intriguing is the fact that another final-day match is between Chelsea and Wolves.

Chelsea is currently in third place, one point ahead of Leicester, but will drop into fourth if United beat  Southampton.

A victory over already-relegated Norwich on Tuesday appears pivotal for Chelsea, considering its last two games are at Liverpool — a team chasing records to cap its title-winning season — and then Wolves, who have gained a reputation for beating the top teams over the last two years.

Wolves are in sixth place, four points off the top four, so the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has come as a blow to their Champions League ambitions.

Indeed, Wolves’ best chance of qualifying for the competition is now to win the Europa League, which earns entry to the Champions League. The team coached by Nuno Espirito Santo has reached the last 16 of the Europa League and will play the second leg of its match against Olympiakos next month, with the score at 1-1 after the first leg.

Likewise, seventh-place Sheffield United needed City to lose its appeal at sport’s highest court to stand a realistic chance of a finish in the Champions League positions, a prospect that would have seemed fanciful for a team that was widely tipped for relegation at the start of the season.

Europa League qualification will be Sheffield United’s target now, with seventh place possibly earning that reward if Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea win the FA Cup.