Football

Euro 2020 postponed by a year in wake of Coronavirus outbreak

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Another much-anticipated sporting event was postponed last week after UEFA decided to push back Euro 2020 to the summer of 2021 due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

After much deliberation from the governing authorities in football, the decision has now been made with domestic football taking priority in the hope that the 2020/21 season can finish in all leagues across Europe.

Euro 2020 was due to be staged across the continent, with a festival of football to be celebrated. However, it looks as though the right and sensible decision has been made.

Euro 2020 was scheduled to take place in 12 cities across Europe from 12th June to 12th July 2020. The proposed new dates are 11th June to 11th July 2021.

How was Euro 2020 taking shape?

With the start of the tournament just 11 weeks away, things were falling into place. The draws had been made and stadiums and cities were making their final preparations for the tournament.

The groups are as follows:

  • Group A – Turkey, Wales, Italy, Switzerland.
  • Group B – Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia.
  • Group C – Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria and either Georgia, North Macedonia, Belarus or Kosovo.
  • Group D – England, Croatia, Czech Republic and either Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia.
  • Group E – Spain, Sweden, Poland and either Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Bosnia.
  • Group F – Portugal, France, Germany or Iceland, Bulgaria or Hungary.

With the groups already set in stone, as well as the play-offs, that part of the tournament is likely to remain untouched.

What does this mean for football?

There is still uncertainty over whether the domestic football season will be finished at all this year but all the top leagues in Europe are hoping to get everything finalised ahead of August, when the next campaign is set to begin.

If the season can finish in June or July, there may be an option for the following season to start a couple of weeks later. However, due to the Euros now being held next summer, there could be real congestion in the fixture list.

The worry is for the governing bodies is that this season can’t be finished due to the outbreak. That could mean two things:-

  • This season is completely null and void. That would certainly frustrate the likes of Liverpool, who are 25 points clear in the Premier League with nine games remaining. Also Championship clubs such as Leeds and West Brom would not be promoted but relegation threatened sides in the Premier League such as Norwich and Aston Villa would have a “stay of execution”.
  • UEFA may decide that they want all leagues to finish but if the Coronavirus pandemic is still here in August, then that could seriously encroach on next season, putting the European Championships in 2021 into doubt if they decide they want a full campaign for 2021/22. With the World Cup scheduled for 2022, that means the Euros may not be until 2024.

However, the latter is the worst case scenario and it looks as though UEFA are still confident of finishing the domestic season across Europe this summer.

What does this mean for England?

Euro 2020 was set to be England’s time to shine. Having performed brilliantly at the World Cup in 2018, where they reached the semi-finals, Gareth Southgate’s men were one of the favourites to win the competition and win a first major international tournament since 1966.

However, with the news that the Euros are to be pushed back to 2021, is that an advantage or disadvantage for Southgate’s side?

With captain Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford on the sidelines for the remainder of the domestic season, they both would have been battling to get back to full fitness ahead of the tournament.

There was also a question mark over the goalkeeping situation. Current number one Jordan Pickford has seen his form nosedive this term and the alternatives are really inexperienced at the top level.

With the tournament now moved, Southgate will be hoping his key men can keep fit and remain in form next season ahead of the summer of 2021. The goalkeeping situation could also be much clearer for Southgate to address.

Obviously, everybody’s health is paramount in a situation like this and the frustration of these footballing nations that they can’t play the beautiful game this summer will be tempered by the news around the world.

Stay safe everyone!