Germany’s Bundesliga could become the first major European league to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, after deciding upon a May 9 restart in the top two divisions. The final decision lies with the government and state health authorities.
As reported by the Daily Mail this afternoon, there are orders for 25,000 coronavirus tests costing an estimated £2.2m and restrictions will be enforced to ensure a limit on the amount of personnel granted stadium access across the country.
Matches will be behind closed doors, with a maximum of 322 people allowed for top-flight matches and 270 for 2. Bundesliga fixtures. This includes players, coaches, referees, journalists, cameramen, doping control officers, stewards, groundsmen and ball boys.
However, this latest development is not yet concrete as they await confirmation from Germany’s government and health authorities.
In order to conform to hygiene standards, widespread testing of players and coaches will be needed – hence the aforementioned £2.2m figure – alongside pitchside sinks and protective masks mandatory for some in attendance.
The German football league (DFL) has estimated that tests will be needed to check on each player weekly, costing around £90 each.
Players have been pictured in training over the past fortnight, with Hertha Berlin midfielder Marko Grujic (on-loan from Liverpool) revealing in an interview with The Athletic that they returned to training earlier this month – no tackling allowed.
DFL CEO Christian Seifert was quoted as saying: “The Bundesliga is ready to resume, no matter whether on May 9 or a later date. But it’s not up to us to find a date, the political decision-makers decide. We have not defined an exact date today – the fact we are even able to think about resuming games underlines the performance of German authorities.
“It would be presumptuous for the DFL to name an exact date for the restart. It’s not in our hands if we return or when, we have several options. If the signal comes in the next week that it can be May 9, then it will be.”
The next scheduled federal government conference, which could either accept or decline their ambitious plans, is slated for April 30.
On the issue of testing, Seifert said: “Professional football would not even consume 0.4% of the available test capacity in the country.”
He said there had been 14 positive COVID-19 cases among 1,100 licensed players, all of whom had recovered.
This latest update comes despite warnings from German chancellor Angela Merkel that some states have eased their lockdown restrictions too soon. She cautioned the country will have to live with coronavirus ‘for the long haul’, while stressing that ‘we can’t return to life like it was before’.
Germany’s death toll passed 5,000 on Wednesday. There were 684 new COVID-19 cases with 54 more deaths, as of 6.30pm UK time today.