Chancellor Angela Merkel recently announced that competitive football is allowed to restart in Germany on Saturday 16 May. So the Bundesliga betting and Bundesliga 2 are set to be the first of five of Europe’s top domestic leagues European leagues to restart following the coronavirus shutdown.
In preparation the league has drawn up a detailed set of regulations and guidelines for training and matches to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus, including stringent testing.
The German Football Association (DFB) said the season would resume under strict health protocols that ban fans from the stadium and require players to have Covid-19 testing.
About 300 people, including players, staff and officials, will be in or around the stadiums during match days.
Christian Seifert, Chief Executive of the Deutsche Fussball Liga which runs the Bundesliga, was happy with the decision to restart the leagues and agreed empty stands were the only way to continue.
“Games without stadium spectators are not an ideal solution for anyone. In a crisis threatening the very existence of some clubs, however, it is the only way to keep the leagues in their current form” Mr Seifert said.
However, Germany’s restart plans have suffered an early setback as the entire Dynamo Dresden team has been put in two week quarantine after two positive tests amongst players. The Bundesliga 2 club said on its website that tests taken on Friday had revealed two new positive cases and local health authorities had ordered the team into quarantine.
Dresden were scheduled to play Hannover 96 next Sunday in their first game back following the stoppage caused by the coronavirus outbreak but will not now be able to travel to play Hanover 96 next Sunday in what was to be their first game back.
“We said from the beginning that this is something we have to be prepared for,” Christian Seifert explained. “If a 14-day quarantine is now scheduled, then we have to deal with it next week in the spirit of the game plan. For the 2nd division, where 81 matches are still to be played, two of Dynamo Dresden’s matches cannot be played at the moment. But we are not changing our goal to finish the season.”
The 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions are set to meet on May 14, two days before football is scheduled to resume, discussing hygiene guidelines and the possibility of allowing teams to use five substitutions. At this meeting a decision will be taken on the possibility of allowing clubs to use five substitutions rather than the normal three.
The situation at Dynamo Dresden proves that any league will be balanced on a knife edge when football resumes, despite all the planning and the expertise that has gone into the Bundesliga restart, there are no guarantees this virus won’t continue to spread.
Christian Seifert admitted as much on Friday when he said that they are “playing under probation” and the reality is that for football authorities everywhere there are no certainties at the moment and there will be setbacks.
However the eyes of all other European countries will be watching Germany keenly in order to make informed decisions about football in individual countries across Europe, and what indeed are the safety measure necessary to minimise further coronavirus outbreaks across teams and backroom squads.