Premiership can end if government bans football’s return

UEFA outlines grounds which would allow the SPFL to call time on the Premiership season.

UEFA has outlined grounds which would allow the Scottish Premiership season to be brought to an early end.

Lower leagues in Scotland have been concluded, but a decision on the Premiership was delayed until European football’s governing body explained how ending the season would affect Champions League and Europa League qualification.

UEFA said on Thursday that domestic leagues proposing to terminate early must provide “legitimate” grounds to do so.

That’s defined as an official order from government prohibiting sporting events, an inability to play on due to insurmountable economic problems and where playing would damage the long-term financial stability of the competition concerned.

It said national associations must use “sporting merit” to decide which clubs should compete in Europe next season, and suggested using play-offs if possible.

But it will also look at a team’s admission if there is “a public perception of unfairness” in their qualification.

However, UEFA still recommends its national members aim to complete the 2019-20 season if at all possible.

A fixtures working group is looking at two scenarios – in the first the European club competitions would run in parallel with domestic action, as they do in normal circumstances, or in the second domestic matches would be completed before continental competition restarts in August.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) responded to the UEFA statement on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group said: “The coronavirus outbreak is affecting leagues across Europe in many different ways depending, amongst other things, on their financial position, their broadcasting deals and the percentage of their clubs’ income derived from gate receipts.

“In addition, the approach from individual governments varies according to the severity and timing of the lockdown and their success in dealing with the outbreak.

“As a result, there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the challenges facing the 55 countries under the UEFA banner.

“Today’s UEFA announcement acknowledges that different leagues will have to carefully consider their own unique circumstances before deciding how best to progress.”

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