The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has announced today (Monday) that the top-tier Premiership will end with immediate effect, with Celtic to be crowned champions and Hearts to be relegated to the Championship.
The announcement was made following consultation with the 12 Premiership clubs. The final league table was determined on a points-per-game basis, which had already been used to determine the three leagues below the top flight.
The season was halted on March 13 and the only change in the table from that point sees St Johnstone move above Hibernian into sixth place. SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said the decision will allow the body to pay out around £7m (€7.9m/$8.5m) in fees to help clubs stay afloat during the crisis.
SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said: “We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters. This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.
“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Ladbrokes Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.”
The German Bundesliga resumed over the weekend following a two-month absence, becoming the first major European football league to return to action following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Borussia Dortmund, Europe’s best supported club with an average gate of 81,154 at Signal Iduna Park, were among the teams to play in front of empty stands as they beat local rivals Schalke 4-0.
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In Belgium, organisers of the top-tier Pro League have officially ended the 2019-20 season, with Club Brugge having been crowned as league champions.
The Pro League General Assembly met digitally on Friday afternoon, when it was formally decided to discontinue the season. The decision will mean that Waasland-Beveren is relegated from the top flight.
The Pro League had already announced plans to end the season but the decision has now been ratified by clubs. The league still hopes to play the final of the Belgian Cup between Club Brugge and Antwerp, although a date for the match has not been set.
The Russian Premier League has targeted a return date of June 21, the Russian Football Union has announced.
The remaining matches will be played from June 21 to July 22, with four midweek match days to form part of the schedule. The rules for training and playing matches are currently being discussed by the authorities, with all fixtures to be held behind closed doors.
Two clubs will be relegated automatically from the league, with no promotion/relegation play-offs to be held. The top two clubs from the second-tier Football National League will directly replace the relegated teams.
The Russian Cup is also scheduled to be held on July 25.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have announced further suspensions for their respective tours.
The ATP has extended the suspension of the ATP Tour until July 31, with events in Hamburg, Bastad, Newport, Los Cabos, Gstaad, Umag, Atlanta and Kitsbühel having been called off.
ATP Tour events taking place from August 1 onwards are currently scheduled to go ahead as scheduled. A further update is expected in mid-June.
Meanwhile, the WTA has announced that its events in Bastad, Lausanne, Bucharest and Jurmala, which had been scheduled for July, will not go ahead as planned. July events in Karlsruke and Palermo are currently scheduled to go ahead, with a final decision to be made on these tournaments in June.
The US Open grand slam tournament is currently scheduled to go ahead as planned at the end of August.
Stuart Pringle, managing director of Silverstone, has told BBC Sport that the Northamptonshire circuit has reached an agreement “in principle” with Formula One to stage two races this summer.
The F1 season is yet to start due to COVID-19 but the series is reportedly planning on beginning the campaign with back-to-back races in Austria in July before heading to Silverstone for two more events.
Pringle did not confirm the dates that have been agreed between Silverstone and F1 but said the deal has been reached to host two races behind closed doors “this summer”.
Elsewhere in F1, the Belgian Grand Prix has been given the green light to go ahead behind closed doors by the regional government. A deal would still need to be reached between race organisers and F1.
A report from sports marketing agency Two Circles has predicted that global sports sponsorship rights fees will fall from $46.1bn in 2019 to $28.9bn in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.
The 2020 projections include a 45-per-cent year-on-year decrease in spend ($5.7bn) from financial services companies, which are expected to contribute $6.9bn by the end of the year. This sector was the biggest investor in sports sponsorship in 2019 with $12.6bn (27.3 per cent) of total spend.
The figures do not include spend on partnership activation.
Two Circles chief executive Gareth Balch said: “Though every corner of sport is hurting, we remain certain that sport’s economy will thrive in the long-term, and when the impending recession bottoms-out, all sectors will rely on the best marketing platforms available to grow their businesses.
“The sports properties that use this period to invest in their sponsorship propositions, moving away in particular from analogue-led logo exposure to digitally-driven, tangible audience engagement, will be those that thrive most post-COVID-19.”
Image: Guillaume Gogo