SPFL plan to crown Celtic champions is premature warns Uefa chief

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has insisted it is still too soon for top flight leagues to call time on their 2019-20 seasons, casting significant doubt on the SPFL’s plan to crown Celtic champions and relegate Hearts this month.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin (left) and Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond

Ahead of a videoconference with all 55 Uefa members on Tuesday, Ceferin has revealed he believes domestic leagues can be restarted and completed behind closed doors this summer.

After the briefing with national associations, including the Scottish FA, Ceferin will chair a Uefa executive committee meeting on Thursday which is expected to provide an update on how the European football calendar will be rescheduled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The SPFL board have delayed a decision on the outcome of this season’s Premiership until Uefa issue further guidance.

But Ceferin’s latest comments suggest it is unlikely that European football’s governing body will give their approval to the contentious resolution which granted the SPFL board authority to finalise the Premiership table on a points-per-game basis as it stood when football was suspended last month.

"I believe there are options that can allow us to restart championships and to complete them," said Ceferin.

"We may have to resume without spectators, but the most important thing, I think, is playing games.

“Uefa will review the cases (of countries who have decided they do not want to finish the season). Such decisions were not made alone. Football is interconnected, we have seen how important it is for Uefa and leagues to work in good cooperation. The executive committee will review the cases.

"Leagues are the revenue base for clubs nationwide. If completed, the financial consequences will be limited.

"It is too early to say that we cannot complete the season. The impact would be terrible for clubs and leagues. Better to play behind closed doors than not at all.

"In such hard times it would bring happiness to people and a certain sense of normality even if the games can only be seen on TV.

"All activities are being organised to start again, everyone needs to find their lives. If safety measures are respected and if the authorities give the green light, the training could resume like the rest. Further consent will be needed for matches.

"The authorities will only allow a fresh start if these measures are taken efficiently. “At first we will only watch football on television, but it is better than not doing it. The measures will be for a limited time and we will return to normal, with full stadiums.”

While UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed talks are ongoing with the English Premier League over the return of football, the majority of the SPFL board believe it is unlikely any games could be played in Scotland until September.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart has stated players would be open to playing behind closed doors if adequate health and safety measures were put in place.

While Ceferin claims there are ‘no deadlines’ from Uefa’s perspective as they bid to complete this season’s Champions League and Europa League in tandem with the resumption of domestic leagues, he admits September and October might be a cut-off point in minimising the disruption to the 2020-21 campaign.

"We can finish, but we must respect the decisions taken by authorities," Ceferin told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"The priority is the health of fans, players and coaches. There is no deadline for the Champions League or Europa League finals. It depends on when we start playing again. But it would be difficult to finish the season between September and October.

"It would have a huge impact on the calendar for next season. We will discuss the post-2024 international calendar and agree on future scenarios, but it is too early to discuss possible solutions.”

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