Some fans could return before season ends, says La Liga president Javier Tebas

Some fans could return before season ends, says La Liga president Javier Tebas

La Liga hopes to have some supporters back in stadiums by the end of the season, says president Javier Tebas.

Spain’s top flight resumes on Thursday, having been suspended on 10 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tebas says talks will take place with the government in two weeks to discuss the possibility of fans returning when it is safe to do so.

“Of course it won’t be the entire stadium and there will be special precautionary measures,” said Tebas.

“If we can have even 10% or 15% by the end of the season, if that happens we will be very happy about that because that’s a sign that we are getting back to some form of normality.

“When we celebrate will be when we actually finish the competitions, both the First Division and the Second Division. This crisis still hasn’t come to an end.”

Tebas also said Neymar’s rumoured return to Barcelona is unlikely to happen because of the financial impact of coronavirus.

The Brazil forward was heavily linked with a switch back to Spain last summer, two years after his world-record £200m move to Paris St-Germain, but the deal never went through.

“There will be a lot less movement than we have seen in other transfer windows,” Tebas added.

“Neymar [going back to Barca] is a big cash deal,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to come off.”

Tebas added that if no fans are allowed in stadiums until the end of the year, he is predicting a contraction in the European summer transfer market from 3bn to 800m euros.

Tebas confirmed talks with governing body Uefa and other major leagues, including the Premier League, were ongoing about when the summer transfer window was likely to close.

The new German season is likely to start before that of the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga, but the situation is not entirely straightforward because of clubs involved in the latter stages of European competition.

However, Tebas is expecting an agreement to be reached for the window to close just before the Champions League group phase starts, which is planned for October.

“It will not be [closing at] the end of July, when the competitions are just finishing. It will be a shorter transfer window than in other years, but we are going to come to a consensus,” he added.

La Liga players back in training, with games to possibly restart on 20 June

La Liga players back in training, with games to possibly restart on 20 June

La Liga first and second division players were allowed to carry out individual work at training grounds from Friday, with La Liga itself hoping to restart again in late June – almost certainly behind closed doors.

La Liga’s training plan is for players to initially carry out individual work before getting together in small groups and then finally taking part in larger team sessions.

Barça players started their first session on Friday, whilst players at Real Madrid will return on Monday.

The plan of a staggered training programme with the purpose of restarting competitive games by late June runs parallel to the Spanish government’s four phase de-escalation plan to return the country to a ‘new normality’ over an 8-week period.

Part of the Spanish football league’s plan requires identifying Coronavirus-infected players through testing – and five players from the top two leagues have already tested positive, La Liga confirmed on Sunday.

The five players have not been officially named. They are now quarantined at home and will be tested again ‘in the next few days’. They will be allowed to rejoin their club’s training after obtaining two consecutive negative test results.

ALSO READ: When can La Liga restart?

La Liga stated that, ‘Among La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank (second division) clubs, five positive cases were detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.’

‘One of the objectives of these medical tests,’ La Liga’s statement read, ‘according to the La Liga’s protocol for returning to training, according to recommendations of the CSD (Supreme Sports Council) and the Ministry of Health, was precisely to detect the denominated or asymptomatic, that is, those people who are infected and that, without presenting symptoms, they can infect other people. In this way, we guarantee everyone’s safety when returning to work according to the occupational risk regulations.’

Messi training
Messi back in training at FC Barcelona on 9 May 2020. (Miguel Ruiz – FC Barcelona)

The health protocol for the players returning to training is strict and includes them arriving already changed and at specific times to avoid contact with others. They have their temperatures taken before entering the premises and at the end of training, they take away a bag of fresh kit for the next day and shower at home.

If La Liga kicks off again on Saturday 20 June, which has been touted as the possible date, it could be expected to finish on Sunday 26 July. It is almost certain that all games will be played in front of empty stands.

La Liga president Javier Tebas is keen to get football up and running again, but has insisted that ‘people’s health is paramount’.

As La Liga currently stands, Real Madrid are in second place behind Barça, with 11 rounds of games remaining. With Real Madrid planning to restart individual training on Monday, captain Sergio Ramos said he ‘can’t wait to get playing and competing … as long as there is no risk of contagion’.

The third and fourth leagues in Spain will not complete their seasons, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Wednesday.

In Germany the Bundesliga is restarting on Saturday 16 May and it is scheduled to run through to Saturday 27 June.

Arthur insists he is staying at Barcelona

Arthur insists he is staying at Barcelona

Arthur has ended speculation over his future at Barcelona, insisting he wants to stay despite interest from several top clubs.

The Brazil midfielder has reportedly become a target for Juventus – and Sky Sports News reported last week that Inter Milan had asked about his availability during talks over Lautaro Martinez’s potential move to the Nou Camp.

Sky Sports News has also been told that Barca’s board and head coach Quique Setien still see a future for him at the club, however, despite the need to recoup funds from player sales in the next transfer window due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

And the player himself also sees a future at Barca for “a long time to come”.

“There’ll always be rumours, but I’m honestly really clear about the fact that the only option I’m interested in is staying at Barcelona,” he said.

“I’m really sure and relaxed about it. I feel very much at home here and thank the club and the coaching staff for the faith they’ve placed in me. That’s yet another reason that makes me totally certain that all I want to do is stay here.

“The rumoured interest from big clubs is always flattering for anyone – and it’s a good sign – but my mind is totally focused on being here for many years to come.

“Barca is the club I’ve always wanted to be at, and I want to remain an Azulgrana for a long time to come; that comes above everything else.

“Every day I feel more at home here; in the team, around the club and in the city. I also love the people and the culture here and really feel the fans’ support.

“I’m 100 per cent focused on working and want us to get back and playing whenever we can, because I’m raring to continue improving here and fighting for more silverware in a Blaugrana shirt.”

La Liga to start testing players on Monday after government green light

La Liga to start testing players on Monday after government green light

The Spanish government has approved a protocol for sporting activity, paving the way for La Liga clubs to begin testing players for Covid-19 on Monday with a view to returning to training the following week.

The league is optimistic that this step will allow it to restart the competition in mid-June, although all decisions still depend on approval from the ministry of health and on the numbers infected by coronavirus continuing to decline.

A taskforce meeting called by the Supreme Sports Council (CSD) and attended by the league, the federation, the players union and representatives from some clubs, as well as other sporting bodies, approved the protocol as part of a four-phase government plan to reduce the lockdown and head towards what the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called “the new normality”. The final phase, scheduled for June, will include a return to competition.

With the population due to be allowed out for exercise for the first time this weekend, professional athletes will be given permission to train alone from Monday. Decisions, though, will be made on a province by province basis, with Covid-19 cases varying greatly across the 50 provinces in the country and altering the context at each club.

That plan broadly fits the league’s own four-phase proposal for a return to training, beginning with individual work and progressing through small, eight-man groups to full team sessions. The league hopes to inspect club training grounds on Monday and Tuesday next week to ensure their preparedness and tests will be carried out thereafter. La Liga has not yet finalised a protocol for a return to competition but government plans contemplate open-air events attended by fewer than 400 people in the final phase.

A statement said the CSD had approved “almost the entirety” of proposals placed before the government. While the full details are yet to be published, a short statement referring back to a 13 April decree suggested that Covid-19 tests could be carried out only by prescription and according to the criteria of the ministry of health, casting considerable doubt on La Liga’s initial plans to test players daily once sessions had begun.

The league had previously told clubs that it was indefinitely suspending the first round of testing, which it had hoped to begin this Tuesday 28 April, because it had not be authorised to do so by the ministry of health.

La Liga plans training return as soon as possible after government go-ahead

La Liga plans training return as soon as possible after government go-ahead

​La Liga is working towards its clubs returning to training as soon as possible after being given the green light by the Spanish government.

Football in Spain was suspended indefinitely in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s top division has created a detailed protocol for the return to training so proper health safeguards are observed.

The aim is a potential restart to the league in mid-June behind closed doors.

There are 11 rounds of matches remaining, with Barcelona two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Spain has announced a four-phase plan to lift the country’s stringent lockdown and, during ‘phase zero’ from 4-11 May, professional sports leagues can go back to training.

Part of La Liga’s strict protocols involve training sessions progressing from individual to small group and then team training.

Players, coaches and staff will have to be tested before individual training begins and then have daily testing.

The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were deemed over on Tuesday after France banned all sporting events, including without spectators, until September.

After the French announcement, La Liga president Javier Tebas said: “I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas, etc, etc.”

European leagues have until 25 May to tell European football’s governing body Uefa whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.