Beating the bug: Bundesliga prepares for May restart and end-June finish

Christian Seifert

April 9 – The Bundesliga could be the first of Europe’s big leagues to return to action with chief executive of the DFL Christian Seifert saying they are planning to restart at the beginning of May.

This week German top flight clubs have returned to training with strict measures in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the biggest sign yet that German football is ready to resume play after it was suspended on March 13.

Speaking to the New York Times, he said that matches will be played behind closed doors at all 36 stadiums across the two leagues.

“We are part of the culture in the country, people long to get back a short piece of normal life, and that could mean the Bundesliga plays again,” said Seifert. “This is why we have to play our role here, and that means to support the government and to talk with the government about when we will be able to play again.”

The Germans want to wrap up the season by the end of June. 

The DFL estimates that even in empty stadiums 240 people will be required to ensure a Bundesliga match can proceed and be televised. To that end, two working groups have been established with Seifert stressing that “the concept is to give certainty to players, to their families and to society as well.” Germany’s number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has topped 100,000, but the mortality rate remains low and the health system has managed the outbreak efficiently. 

The drive to finish the season is to minimize the loss that have been sustained from the game’s shutdown. International accountancy firm KPMG estimated that Europe’s major five leagues stand to lose up to €4 billion if the season is scrapped. Seifert put the figure at €750 million for Germany.  

Siefert said that 50% of the second division teams “are very much in danger to file for bankruptcy” if the season was cancelled. Sky Deutschland, the domestic rights holder, is yet to pay the final advancement of €300 million. “We are in very constructive talks with all our partners no matter if it’s pay TV or free TV,” said Seifert. 

The league body is also drawing up plans to mitigate the shortfall, potentially seeking investment in the form of a bridging loan from private equity firms KKR and Apollo Global Management.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1591094371labto1591094371ofdlr1591094371owedi1591094371sni@o1591094371fni1591094371