Professional football leagues in Turkey, which were suspended on March 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic, are scheduled to resume on June 12 behind closed doors, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chief announced on May 6.
“As of now, with different scenarios already prepared, we have decided to restart the Süper Lig, the First Division, the Second Division, the Third Division and the regional amateur leagues on June 12,” Nihat Özdemir told reporters in an online press conference.
The TFF chief said the decision has been made after consultations with the government, Süper Lig and lower division clubs and the international governing bodies FIFA and the UEFA.
“Hopefully, we will have completed our leagues by the end of July in the best way possible,” Özdemir said. “We will hand out the trophies on the pitch and crown the season by hosting the UEFA Champions League final in August.”
On March 23, the UEFA announced that the Champions League final, scheduled to be played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul originally on May 30, was postponed indefinitely.
Özdemir noted that a protocol to define how the games will be played will be prepared based on the recommendations of the Health Ministry and the Coronavirus Science Board.
“We have a plan and different scenarios, but this not enough,” the TFF chief said. “We will shape our roadmap with the decisions the TFF Science board will take based on the Health Ministry’s recommendations. Our priority is health.”
Asked about Süper Lig Club Ankaragücü’s announcement on May 5 that one of its players tested positive for the coronavirus, Özdemir said a decision will be made after consultations with the Health Ministry if a player tests positive after the competitions restart.
If all goes well and the leagues start on June 12, seven game day will be played on weekends and one game day will played midweek to end all competitions on July 26, the TFF chief noted.
“Then we can have a break in August before starting the new season, but of course there will be some delays,” he said.
“Can the leagues be delayed to August? They can, there is no problem in that. Our only goal is to complete the leagues. IF the leagues resume, we will get 588 million Turkish Liras [$82.3 million] from the official broadcaster, and this money will be distributed to the teams, which are all facing financial troubles due to the suspension.”
Turkish professional football leagues usually start in early August, with a two- to four-week winter break in January.
Many Süper Lig clubs started training earlier this week observing the social distancing rules. Özdemir said the 35 days until the kickoff will be enough for the teams to be prepared.
He noted that the actual games program will be prepared considering the physical conditions of the host cities, including the weather conditions, amid concerns that high temperatures in summer months may have an adverse effect on the footballers’ health.
Özdemir said the rules to be imposed by the Health Ministry will be strictly followed.
Hurriyet Daily News