Top Euro leagues to plan post-virus return

La Liga chief Javier Tebas says he is optimistic about European Leagues starting up again in May

Top soccer leagues across Europe are searching for the earliest possible dates to resume games if the coronavirus pandemic allows.

They must make a plan, after governing body UEFA this week postponed its European Championship to 2021 to give clubs a chance to finish their seasons.

Italy's Serie A said it hopes to play on May 3.

Romania's top-tier league says not before May 16.

In Sweden, clubs asked to move their opening day back to June from April 3.

La Liga chief Javier Tebas believes European leagues should be able to restart by mid-May.

On Thursday, the English Premier League's 20 clubs will discuss options to restart or resolve the most valuable domestic competition in world soccer.

Still, any forward planning seems a win for hope over expectation during the near-total shutdown that threatens the finances of some leagues and hundreds of clubs.

"You have no idea if it is going to be possible to play football at the end of May or the middle of June or even afterwards," Lars-Christer Olsson, chairman of the 29-nation European Leagues group, told The Associated Press in an interview.

"Liquidity is the major problem now," Olsson, a former UEFA general secretary, said in a telephone interview from Sweden.

Typically, "a lot of income is coming at the final phase of the season when you have full stadiums."

As head of the leagues' group, Olsson is a member of UEFA's executive committee which decided on Tuesday to postpone Euro 2020.

That cleared several weeks for club competitions to continue in late May and June - and maybe an unprecedented move into July - became Europe's top priority.

To achieve sporting integrity, European soccer wants to award titles, decide promotion and relegation places, and confirm entries to next season's Champions League and Europa League.

To avoid financial and legal peril, games are needed to fulfil broadcasting contracts that have kept the soccer industry booming even through the 2008 global downturn.X

Federal, state and city authorities impose limits on public gatherings, and can prohibit soccer games for making excessive demands on security and health resources.

Financial rescues could also be needed if the shutdown continues.

Olsson acknowledged that empty-stadium games might be necessary as a transition when games can start again.