Bundesliga planning return to action by beginning of May, confirms Seifert

8 April 2020 | Clubs & Rightsholders
Bundesliga planning return to action by beginning of May, confirms Seifert
Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League (DFL), has revealed the country’s top two soccer leagues, the Bundesliga and 2 Bundesliga, are planning to return to action by the beginning of May.

The two leagues have been suspended since 13th March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Early signs had suggested a return could be edging closer when the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund returned to training earlier this week, albeit through heavily-adapted sessions to reduce health concerns.

Now Seifert has given the clearest indication yet that German soccer could resume play imminently. Speaking to the New York Times, Seifert said matches will resume behind closed doors at all 36 stadiums across the two leagues in less than a month’s time. 

“We are part of the culture in the country, people long to get back a short piece of normal life, and that could mean the Bundesliga plays again,” Seifert told the New York Times. “This is why we have to play our role here, and that means to support the government and to talk with the government about when we will be able to play again.”

Seifert added that games will solely be a for television, and that is likely to remain so until the end of the year.

Such a move from the DFL, which hopes to have the domestic season wrapped up by the end of June, is in stark contrast to other major European soccer leagues. England’s Premier League is unlikely to return until July at the earliest, the report adds.

The DFL’s plan has estimated that even in empty stadiums, Bundesliga matches will require 240 people, including players, coaching and medical staff, match officials and production staff. Two groups have reportedly been set up to deal with the practicalities of staging each match. One will set up uniform matchday regulations, and the other will devise a hygiene plan for training and games and to work out what measures to take if a player tests positive.

“The concept is to give certainty to players, to their families and to society as well,” said Seifert.

Germany’s eagerness to return would help quash any costs incurred from scrapping the season, with Seifert putting the figure at as much as €750 million (US$816.5 million). The Premier League and Spain’s La Liga have estimated their losses at UK£1 billion (US$1.2 billion) and €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) respectively. 

Seifert told the New York Times that 50 per cent of the second division teams “are very much in danger to file for bankruptcy” if the season was cancelled. As many as five top division teams would apparently face serious financial problems too.

The New York Times reports that top-tier teams are already set to lose nearly €100 million (US$108.9 million) from the absence of supporters, while the final €300 million (US$326.6 million) instalment has yet to be paid by domestic broadcast partners, including Sky Deutschland.

“We are in very constructive talks with all our partners no matter if it’s pay TV or free TV,” said Seifert. 

The DFL has also apparently made plans for a possible shortfall, which include the previously reported €300 million (US$326.6 million) investment from private equity firms KKR and Apollo Global Management, which would take the form of a bridging loan.

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