Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, is hoping that the league season can resume on June 12th, although he acknowledges that his hands are tied by the Spanish government, and they will make the ultimate decision.
His comments came hours after it was revealed on Sunday that five players and staff from unspecified clubs across the country’s top two leagues had tested positive for coronavirus, with one of them subsequently being identified as former Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles, who now plays for Real Betis.
Last week La Liga clubs began testing players as part of the process to allow a return to training. And, despite the number of reported positive cases, Tebas is encouraged because he expected more. Players from clubs in the top two leagues have now resumed training again, although, at this stage, the emphasis is on individual work, with strict adherence to health protocols, and social distancing are to be observed at all times. The intention is to gradually increase the intensity of the training, including allowing contact again, so that the league is ready to resume by mid-June.
Meanwhile, the players and staff who have tested positive will now be quarantined at home, and will be tested again in a few days’ time. Only after they have returned negative results for two consecutive tests will they be allowed to return to training with their clubs again.
As elsewhere in Europe, if and when football does return, matches will have to be played behind closed doors for several months, and a range of health precautions will need to be followed.
The third and fourth tier leagues in Spain have been cancelled, although football authorities have tried to head off some of the legal challenges that has risen in countries like the Netherlands and France by allowing promotion but not relegation.
However, Tebas argues that this is not an option for La Liga, because of the cost to clubs of not completing the season. As things stand, clubs in the top flight have already lost an estimated €1 billion (US $1.1 million) due to the suspension of the season. Failure to finish it altogether would have potentially catastrophic consequences for some of them, and may see a number of them simply go out of business.