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Ceferin warns leagues decisions must be approved by UEFA

The president of the governing body reiterated his stance on European competition.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned football authorities, including the SPFL and SFA, decisions on the outcome of competitions are not to be made without consultation.

Leagues across Europe are suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, with no return date set and little prospect of competitive games before July at the earliest.

UEFA have already postponed the European Championships by a year and suspended their club competitions but have said they hope to see competitions played to a conclusion when circumstances allow.

However, each individual association and league has their own concerns and Belgium announced they are cancelling the Pro League and naming Club Brugge as champions. That prompted UEFA to announce that places in the Champions League and Europa League could be at risk for countries who act independently.

In Scotland, the SPFL board are meeting on Tuesday to discuss their position on completing the season or not, with clubs to join a discussion on Wednesday.

In a fresh interview given to Slovenian daily Ekipa, Ceferin has insisted that leagues must take any proposals to UEFA to be approved, so that all of Europe can be aligned in their response.

Ceferin said the pandemic had created the biggest challenge to face UEFA in its history and emphasised his belief member nations had to stick together in a time of crisis, and not act independently.

“We at UEFA are ready to think about the many different situations that can occur in individual leagues, in individual countries, during these months,” he said. “Different solutions may need to be sought in different countries, and we are aware of this. But we have made it very clear that we will not tolerate arbitrariness.

“We cannot allow anyone to make their own decisions without consulting and talking to UEFA. We cannot allow someone to simply say to himself that he will no longer play, while also determining who will play our UEFA European competitions. We can’t go this way, we had to make it very clear.

“I heard about the Belgian Union, we spoke and further explained their point of view and they realized that they had done wrong. After that, they will present their case to UEFA, tell us all about their concerns and problems, and then we at UEFA on the Executive Board will decide the case. I think that such a procedure is the only right one. You cannot stand for unity and solidarity only when it is in your interest.”

The UEFA president didn’t rule out allowing some leagues to end early but stressed that he didn’t expect anything to be announced through the media before UEFA had their say.

“We have always taken care of everyone who came to us with any desire for help – and now. when things are different, we expect everyone to come to us first, he said. “In fact, I have no personal interest in saying that any league should end on the field.

“If this is not possible for objective reasons, it will not be possible. But we have to be the one to give the final score because then we are accepting clubs in our European Cups. I believe that certain situations are extremely complex in some countries.

“We will not harm anyone, you can be sure. But we want to know everything in advance and I made it clear to everyone that I no longer want to read in the media how anyone has decided.”

Critics had described Ceferin’s warning about Champions League places as a threat to leagues and while he disputed the term, he reiterated the position.

Talking about the specific example of Liverpool as a club close to securing their league title before play was suspended, the UEFA president hinted that it would be acceptable for the club to be declared as champions even if games couldn’t be played out in front or fans or behind closed doors.

He said: “I see no way to keep Liverpool untitled. If it is played, then they will almost certainly win it – theoretically they haven’t yet reached the laurel, but it is practically close.

“However, if it could not be played, it would also be necessary to announce the results in some way and in some key, and then the champions should be determined.

“And of course again I do not see a scenario that would not be Liverpool. I understand that fans will be disappointed if it happens in an empty stadium or even at a table, but I believe they will win the title one way or another.”