Selective reopening of stadiums will unbalance league, says La Liga India head

According to the recent Spanish legislation passed, football, as of now, can resume only behind closed doors.

Jose Antonio Cachaza

La Liga India managing director Jose Antonio Cachaza believes the effects of COVID-19 will even be felt come the next footballing season.   -  Special Arrangement

La Liga India managing director Jose Antonio Cachaza believes the possibility of reopening selective stadiums for fans before the end of the 2019-20 season would disrupt the level playing field.

According to the recent Spanish legislation passed, football can resume only behind closed doors. However, the president of Spain's top-flight Javier Tebas is eager to bring supporters to the stadiums before the end of this season, which will resume after a three-month coronavirus-enforced break this Thursday.

With Spain reporting a fall in positive tests and mortality numbers over the past few weeks, the country has gradually started lifting restrictions. There remains a possibility that some regions entering advanced stages of the relaxation measures – phase 3 -– could allow a select capacity of fans in the stadiums.

"I am in favour of playing in front of the public as soon as possible,' Tebas reportedly told COPE. "It is possible that this could happen in some cities before others.”

His statement contradicts Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s message, who said it would not be fair for only some teams to have fans. Cachaza is of a similar view.

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“Obviously, we would like to have real fans in the stands instead of digital noises tomorrow itself. For that to happen, we depend on the decision of Spanish health authorities.

"If you listen to what the Spanish minister of sports and other people are saying, it will be possible only if it can be done at every stadium. If we open the gates to one stadia and close for others, that immediately unbalances the competition. We don’t know if that will be possible but if it is to happen, security for fans, players and professionals working around the game will be the first concern,” said Cachaza.

“I cannot give an answer right now [regarding when fans will be allowed back into stadiums]. Maybe sometime in July. Most likely, it cannot be until next season in September,” he added.

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While Tebas wants a September 12 start for the 2020-21 season, nothing is set in stone yet. The current campaign is slated for a July 19 finish and UEFA competitions – Champions League and Europa League – are likely to be scheduled for the month of August.

On the next season’s kick-off, Cachaza said, “Things will keep evolving and we cannot answer now how it will be in September. What is really important is to be able to be back and this is going to be a difficult way to finish the season.

"Also, next season may not be anything but normal. Imagine a Champions League final between Real Madrid and Barcelona on August 26 and then they will have to be back on September 12. The protocols will be worked for that but it’s not normal [20-day lay-off between Champions League final and the start of next season]. There is still a lot of uncertainty that we cannot answer now. And it is not just La Liga. We are hoping from January next year everything is normal and we have full attendances."

He noted that the short buffer period between seasons and the prevailing health concerns across the globe meant, it will be difficult for the high profile Spanish teams to have pre-season tours this year. He said, “I cannot give you a clear answer but it is difficult for a team to finish competing in August can play pre-season matches.

"Also, we need to be quite honest about this. If we are putting together a jig-saw for the end of this season and the beginning of next season, we need to keep in mind the health concerns we will have all over the world. I don’t think we can expect many pre-season events this year.”

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