In Brief

D-day for Uefa: will the Champions League replace the Euros this summer?

European football’s governing body will hold a meeting today to decide the fate of its competitions

European football’s governing body, Uefa, is hosting a video conference with major stakeholders today and it promises to be a packed agenda.

The European Championships are expected to be postponed to the summer of 2021 in order that domestic leagues can be completed in May and June, but there is also the burning question about what to do with the Champions League and Europa League.

Before coronavirus created havoc with international sport, the Champions League had been intriguingly poised. 

Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta and RB Leipzig had already qualified for the quarter-finals, while three of the four remaining fixtures - Man City vs. Real Madrid, Napoli vs. Barcelona and Lyon vs. Juventus - are all finely balanced.

In the other tie Bayern Munich have all but guaranteed a place in the last eight after beating Chelsea 3-0 away at Stamford Bridge in the first leg.

Coronavirus: Italy calls for Uefa to postpone Euro 2020

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Mini-tournament

According to reports, one option that will be discussed at today’s conference is the possibility of a mini-tournament. 

BBC Sport says Uefa wants the Champions League and Europa League “to reach a conclusion because they also have major broadcasting contracts to satisfy”, and there is the recognition that players and fans will be desperate to resume normality as quickly as possible once the stringent lockdowns across the continent have been lifted.

Like the Champions League, the Europa League has reached its last-16 stage, and one solution would be to play the quarter-finals and semi-finals as one-off games. However, it remains unclear what would happen to the second leg of the last-16 matches. 

There is sure to be fierce opposition if Uefa decided to scrap the second leg and move straight to the quarter-final stage with the clubs who hold the aggregate lead progressing.

Summer showdown

The BBC says that Uefa will examine the feasibility of playing the quarter-finals and semis “over a handful of days as a mini-tournament - in Istanbul and Gdansk, host cities for this season’s finals”. This would reduce travelling demands and cause the least disruption to the domestic leagues.

Assuming that the Euros are cancelled, that would allow Uefa to use the four weeks set aside for the tournament - 12 June to 12 July - to complete domestic and European fixtures.

The BBC says that in terms of financial implications, the European Championships are of secondary importance because “most countries rely on the payments from Uefa that come out of major international tournaments to allow their own leagues to function properly”.

However, there are an estimated 400 staff working exclusively on the Euros and it is uncertain what would happen to them if the tournament is postponed until 2021.

Today’s back pages

England’s Three Lions are caged for a year and the Grand National and Boat Races are cancelled

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