Bundesliga

The German Football League (DFL) has moved to further suspend play in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga until at least April 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, play was suspended until April 2. The announcement came just hours after the DFL said the weekend’s games would take place behind closed doors where possible, before a full suspension from March 17.

The DFL has now updated its guidance ahead of an ordinary assembly meeting on March 31, which will assess the recommendation for extending the suspension through to April 30. Given that some clubs are facing a potentially existence threatening situation and because of the responsibility for an industry with 56,000 direct and indirect employees, the DFL on March 16 unanimously reiterated the objective of wanting to end the season by June 30 if possible.

Following a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the DFL said: “In this regard, the DFL is currently working intensively on concepts to play matches at their assigned time – given the current situation – also without stadium spectators and with a minimum workforce in the areas of sport, general organisation and media. In contrast to amateur and mass sports or other leisure events, only staff working in the stadium as part of an employment would be present on site.”

Champions Cup/Challenge Cup

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has suspended the remainder of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup seasons, including the planned finals of the two tournaments at the Orange Vélodrome in Marseille, France.

The 2020 Marseille finals were due to be played on the weekends of May 1-3 and May 22-23, respectively, with the hosting rights having been awarded in October 2018. EPCR said it is committed to completing the 2019-20 season, subject to advice on resumption from governments and local authorities.

The governing body said in a statement: “In light of the earlier postponement of its quarter-final matches and with fixtures in Europe’s professional league competitions currently suspended due to the public health crisis, EPCR believes it necessary to provide as much clarity as possible to all stakeholders regarding the knockout stages of its tournaments.

“To that end, EPCR is working with the leagues and unions to restructure a conclusion to its season as part of a wider rescheduling of the remainder of the season in Europe, with all contingencies underpinned by the requirement to protect the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community.”

Irish racing

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has been forced to suspend its events following an order from Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, to cancel all sporting events in the country from today (Wednesday).

Ireland had been the only major European racing nation still operating events amid COVID-19, albeit behind closed doors, staging one meeting per day since Friday.

The government order will initially run through to April 19, a period that takes in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse racecourse on April 12-13. However, the Punchestown Festival, the finale to the jumping season, also appears under threat as it is scheduled to commence on April 28.