Bundesliga clubs on probation, warns CEO ahead of May 16 restart
Everyone must adhere to strict guidelines as league resumes on May 16: Seifert
German Football League (DFL) chief Christian Seifert warned clubs yesterday that they are "on probation" and must implement strict hygiene measures when the Bundesliga restarts in eight days' time.
"Everyone must be clear: We are playing on probation," Seifert said at a press conference ahead of the May 16 restart.
"I expect everyone to live up to their responsibilities."
The Bundesliga will become the first major European football league to resume, and it must adhere to strict health guidelines, which includes banning fans from stadiums and a seven-day quarantine for clubs before the league restarts.
The worry is that a coronavirus outbreak in the league could again halt the resumed competition, this time for good.
While it would be no normal restart given the restrictions, it was crucial to resume play, Seifert added.
"The interest (globally) is big. I see reports from across the world that we are the first major league to return," he said.
"This can only happen because we have the privilege to live in one of the most modern health systems in the world."
He was speaking after a meeting with first and second division clubs, following the government's decision on Wednesday to give the green light for the Bundesliga restart and throw a financial lifeline to the cash-strapped clubs.
Seifert said there would be no Friday match in the first week as the government's order was for play to resume in the second part of the month. "Friday the 15th is not in the second half of the month," he said.
All teams will have to go into a seven-day training camp in complete isolation before May 16 and with all players being tested before their inclusion in the camps, to reduce the risk of any infection.
About 300 people, including players, staff and officials, will be in and around the stadiums during matchdays.
The DFL is desperate to finish the season by June 30 to be contractually in compliance with sponsors and broadcasters and because more than 100 players' contracts are running out on that date, Seifert said.
About 300 million euros (S$460.3m) in TV money are at stake and the DFL has warned any further delay could threaten some clubs' existence.
Seifert, who aims to finish the league by June 27-28, hopes next season can start in August.
The league has been on hold since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany has reported more than 168,000 infections and over 7,000 deaths, which is the lowest compared to France, Britain, Spain and Italy.
France has already ended the Ligue 1 season, with football in England, Spain and Italy still suspended.
Bundesliga teams have been training since mid-April, divided into small groups and under strict conditions, including extensive Covid-19 testing of all players and coaching staff.
Bayern Munich, chasing an eighth successive title and taking on Union Berlin on May 17, lead the table with 55 points from 25 games, four ahead of Borussia Dortmund with RB Leipzig third on 50.
There are nine rounds of matches left, with the Ruhr Derby between Dortmund and Schalke 04 one of the matches on relaunch day. - REUTERS