BARCELONA (REUTERS) – Spain’s La Liga could recommence in July without spectators, the head of a major broadcaster has said, adding that the season was likely to be cancelled if a player tested positive for the coronavirus once the campaign had restarted.
All organised football in Spain has been on hold since March 10 due to the spread of the deadly virus although Jaume Roures, CEO of Spanish multimedia group Mediapro, predicted that matches could resume behind closed doors in three months’ time.
“I expect football to return in July, certainly without supporters, but first of all there would have to be a pre-season campaign,” Roures told radio station Cadena Cope on Wednesday (April 1).
Spain is the second-worst affected country in Europe by the virus behind Italy and on Tuesday reported a record daily death toll of 849 from the virus, which has killed a total of 8,189 people.
Players from Valencia, Espanyol and Alaves have tested positive for the virus and Roures said if another player was to contract the disease then the season would have to be cancelled.
“If a player tested positive, for example on July 20, we’d have to throw in the towel and say goodbye to the season,” Roures added.
“We have to take every measure possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. But if it does, the party is over.”
With 11 matches still to be played, Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points at the top of the standings, while the battle to avoid relegation is also finely balanced.
La Liga’s organising body has put the estimated cost of the season not finishing at 700 million euros (S$1.1 billion) and has vowed to finish the season, as has the national soccer federation.
“I don’t think it’s too difficult to play 11 matches in two months. Not playing would leave a hole of 700 million euros which would take a lot to fix,” added Roures.
“We would be suffering for a long time as a result so that’s why we have to try to finish the season.”