English football titans, Manchester City and Chelsea, will be mightily relieved if UEFA gives the expected go-ahead for the resumption of this season’s Champions League. Of the two English clubs remaining in the competition, Manchester City are favourites to lift the hefty 11kg trophy, with bookmakers 888 Sport offering odds of just 3/1, whilst the Blues remain totally unfancied, with odds of 500/1 from bookmakers Skybet, after their heavy 3-0 defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the 1st leg of the last 16 tie.
But the Champions League isn’t only about the glory of winning the Final after playing a dozen matches of sublime football during the competition, and bringing joy to fans and sponsors. It’s very much all about the money too. The winning club will receive a guaranteed 66 million euros, this not inconsiderable sum topped up by 2.7 million for every match won and 900,000 euros for every draw. Factor in the UEFA coefficient ranking and TV rights, and you can see that there is a whole bundle of cash to play for!
The UEFA Executive Committee met this week to establish a way forward for the 2019/20 Champions League, which was suspended on 23 March with four matches remaining of the round of 16 second leg ties. UEFA and its 55 national association members are keen to establish a viable plan for the conclusion of the competition but uncertainty regarding the completion of national leagues has hampered decision-making. Italy has 12 rounds of domestic fixtures remaining, Spain has 11 rounds and England has 9 (although the FA has to factor more cup games into its revised schedule than Spain and Italy).
The Final was originally scheduled to take place at the end of May at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, but UEFA is now looking at a possible date of Saturday 29 August instead. Accordingly, it has advised the national associations to conclude their domestic seasons by the end of July in order that the remaining Champions League and Europa League matches can be played from week commencing 3 August onwards.
The FA is eager to resume the Premier League and so too are the clubs, none more so than Liverpool who top the table with 82 points, a whopping 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City. A mid-June resumption would enable the domestic league to be completed and then the European competitions to resume in August. But although the current lockdown period in the UK is due to end in early May, indications are that measures on social distancing will continue well into next month and the FA is currently unable to make a definitive decision on resumption of the Premier League. All UEFA members are facing similar problems although there are signs of tentative recovery with training for Serie A teams due to commence shortly in Italy.