Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s premier football competition La Liga, has indicated that supporters may return to stadiums before the end of the current campaign.
The league will resume action this week, and there are 110 games to fit in before July 19, which is when the season is scheduled to conclude.
For the moment, all that football is set to be played behind closed doors. But fans now have some hope that at least some of them may be allowed to see their teams play live before that date.
The Spanish government has set a protocol for its relaxation of its lockdown that would allow fans to return to stadiums from June 29. That potentially means that five matchdays could be played with supporters in the stands before the culmination of the campaign.
Tebas maintains that the Covid-19 pandemic that necessitated the suspension of the league is now in sufficient decline for fans to return to games in very limited numbers.
Pandemic in decline
“The pandemic is on a sharp decline,” Tebas said.
“The return to stadiums would have to be coordinated by the ministry for health and the Consejo Superior de Deportes [The Sports Council, effectively Spain’s sports ministry], and it is obviously not going to be the whole stadium.
“If we can get 10%, 15% this season we would be very happy. It would be part of that ‘normality’; it is important that fans start to return.”
Tebas had previously warned club owners that fans might not be allowed back into stadiums until 2021. It had been understood that all games would have to be played behind closed doors this season.
Despite the progress towards fans returning to grounds now being significantly ahead of schedule, some club owners are understood to be somewhat cautious about the idea.
Real Madrid, for example, have found an alternative venue to play at as they have committed to completing building work at the Bernebeu. They will play the remainder of their home games this season at their Valdebebas training ground.
Levante will also not play home games at their usual ground, the Ciutat de Valencia, but 140km away.
Osasuna are another club that has building work in progress, and they are unlikely to be able to use their El Sadar stadium this season.
New season to start in September
Meanwhile, Tebas has also stated that the 2020/21 season will begin on September 12, despite the likelihood that Spanish clubs could be involved in the latter stages of European competitions from this season that will need to be completed in the early autumn.
Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Getafe and Sevilla are still involved in European competitions, something that means that their respective seasons might not be complete until late in August.
Tebas added: “If we need to we will adapt their fixture list, so that their games get played.
“They will start on September 19, September 26; it won’t be easy [but] we will look for dates for them to [make up] those matches.
“You can’t change things for 20 clubs to suit two; it is much better that those two adapt.”