There will be no professional football in France until at least September, after an announcement today by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
This effectively means the end of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons, with reports that the Ligue de Football Professionnel, which governs the competition, will meet in May to decide final league placings.
The news comes as rumours about the possible return of the Premier League behind closed doors gather pace. Yesterday, the British government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said, “I’ve personally been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.
“But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”
France has been in a strict lockdown for far longer than the UK, but hundreds of people are dying every day in both countries from Covid-19, with figures in the UK believed to be much higher than reported.
I was hesitating to post this chart, so depressing is it.
The lines here represent excess deaths.
No other major European state has excess deaths so far above “normal" levels for the time of yr.
In other countries excess mortality is falling. In England it's still rising #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/tZO37qZczd
— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) April 28, 2020
The Bundesliga hopes to return next month, playing games behind closed doors, but having eased some restrictions, the infection rate is rising in Germany again so there may yet be further developments or delays.
While an optimistic outlook about the return of sport is nice, and while vested interests like broadcasters and clubs desperate for their share of money to be paid might make it sound as if it’s possible to bring football back, the reality is that public health responsibility has to be the main driver for any decision.
Even behind closed doors, players, officials, staff and the countless other people involved in making it happen, are not immune from infection, and it seem as if we’re still a long way from seeing the game recommence at any level.