German football chiefs have confirmed that the Bundesliga will resume on May 16 behind closed doors in a huge step towards bringing the sport back across the continent after the coronavirus took hold.
While France and the Netherlands both opted to end their respective campaigns – with all French sport banned until September – German chancellor Angela Merkel announced an easing of lockdown restrictions on Wednesday.
One such move was to allow the resumption of football and the German Football League (DFL) revealed in a news conference on Thursday further details about the next steps.
“The interest [globally] is big. I see reports from across the world that we are the first major league to return,” the DFL’s chief executive, Christian Seifert, said.
“This can only happen because we have the privilege to live in one of the most modern health systems in the world.
“The matches will feel different. After the first matchday, we will all know why we prefer games with fans.
But that is the framework we have to operate in and I expect the best possible sport within this framework.”
Players, as well as referees, will be under strict instruction and will undergo regular Covid-19 testing as part of the plans.
Indeed, there were 10 positive tests for the virus from clubs in the first wave of testing, with two further positive tests recently announced.
Instead of the thousands of fans, the number of people involved at stadiums on matchdays will be reduced to around 300, including players, officials and referees.
Talks are underway with relevant broadcasters about making the Bundesliga free to air.
Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen are the only two sides with 10 games left – the rest have nine – and the season is now scheduled to finish on the weekend of June 27-28.