Bundesliga proposed to shut down from next week until April

By Patrick Reichardt, dpa

The German football league (DFL) has suggested suspending the Bundesliga and second division from next week until April 2 due to the coronavirus.

A special meeting of the DFL board on Friday proposed a general meeting of members on Monday to confirm the move, which would come into effect on Tuesday.

The majority weekend’s matches would go ahead albeit behind closed doors although Bremen city council refused to authorize Werder’s home match with Bayer Leverkusen on Monday.

Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte confirmed that on Friday citing fears fans could gather outside the stadium to replicate scenes from Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Wednesday match with Cologne and Paris Saint-Germain’s victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

The second division match between Hanover and Dynamo Dresden has also been postponed. Hanover have had two players test positive for the virus and the rest of their squad is in quarantine.

Nuremberg, who played Hanover last week, have also gone into isolation after a defender contracted the virus. They have requested their weekend match be postponed.

The DFL said from the resumption should then be played to conclusion by summer. Due to the international break at the end of March, only one complete round of fixtures would need to be rescheduled.

Not stopping immediately, however, has not been met with universal approval.

“This is crazy,” said Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago. “Please stop fooling around and land on reality. Let’s be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport.”

But Bayern “will treat the matchday as professionally as we normally would,” said coach Hansi Flick, ahead of Saturday’s visit to Union Berlin.

On Thursday German chancellor Angela Merkel said the rapid spread of the coronavirus required more drastic steps to be taken, indirectly calling on football chiefs to take action.

Where possible social contact should be avoided and “all unnecessary events,” even with less than 1,000 people, should be cancelled.

Finding a suitable, and safe, way to end the seasons in Germany and elsewhere in Europe is a major priority for domestic governing bodies.

Promotion and relegation, along with entry to European competitions, must somehow be settled with millions and millions of dollars at stake.

However, the DFL acknowledged that playing behind closed doors for several weeks was not a viable option and repeated the plea for fans not to gather outside stadiums during this weekend’s matches.

Bovenschulte said it was expected “2,000 to 3,000 people,” could gather at Bremen’s ground should Monday’s match go ahead.

“The spread of the virus must be slowed so the health system is not overrun,” she said. “Therefore everything must be done consistently now.”

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