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The German top flight resumed on May 16 and it has set the precedents for sports to return to television screens across the globe. As much of Europe’s elite clubs watched in earnest, not ot mention the millions of sport starved fans hastily finding out how to watch Bundesliga football.
Football clubs are in dire financial straits. This has been an underlying fact for quite some time and the coronavirus pandemic has now brought to the forefront. But it is now.
Domestic leagues in Belgium, France and Netherlands were decided as is. But Germany took the more headstrong approach. They decided to resume Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. Adjusting to the conditions and tackling whatever problems that came their way.
Unique approaches to training have been adopted. Training in small groups is the way forward. So, are video links for team meetings. German clubs are at the forefront of global sports and they have paved the way for their resumption.
All eyes were glued to reports from Prussia in the days leading up to May 16. Premier League bosses were interested. So, were NBA and NFL chiefs across the Atlantic.
Three weeks in their return, Bundesliga was under scrutiny from sporting big wigs and they have come out with flying numbers. There has been little to suggest otherwise.
As Bayern Munich continue their march to yet another domestic title, despite Borussia Dortmund’s best efforts to catch them, there is more attention to what is going behind the scenes. Prior to the restart, a lot of questions were raised.
There was news of players and backroom staff testing positive of the deadly virus. Out of the 1,724 individuals tested, results of 10 came back positive. The good news was that none of the 10 individuals showed symptoms. The gambit paid off. Stricter measures were adopted and no such news has appeared again. With greater scrutiny, Bundesliga has set the roadmap for others to follow.
Portugal’s Liga NOS is the first to follow suit. On June 3, Portimonense hosted Gil Vicente FC to mark the resumption of Portuguese top flight football. Games will be played over the next five days, with Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira playing the final fixture late on June 7. With an incident to report and only sporting action grabbing highlights, the experiment has seemed to work.
Similarly, football leagues resumed in Austria, Denmark and Greece. The doors to sporting action have been opened. But as it stands, all eyes are set on England and Spain. The two biggest leagues in club football.
There is more revenue at stake there. Not to mention the fate of the championship winners. Liverpool have all but wrapped up the title to end their 30-year title wait. However, they still need two more wins from their remaining nine league outings. Elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula, Barcelona and Real Madrid are locked in a battle for domestic supremacy.
Football had to return. If it hadn’t, a lot of clubs would have gone in administration. Thousands of jobs would have come under contention. Solvency and furloughing are options that clubs have not accepted at the moment but they would have to consider it.
The beautiful game has returned but not in its entirety. You will be hard pressed to find fans in stadiums for quite some time. The risk factor is too huge. This is why social gatherings have been limited to ten or less people across the world. Bundesliga might take the lead at that too and have them in the stands sooner rather than later. Germany is returning to work in mid-June and the blanket travel ban comes off at the same time.
However, one thing is for certain. Sports as we know has changed. For better or for worse, only time will tell.