9:48 AM ET
The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) plan to award qualification to next season’s Champions League and Europa League based on the current standings if La Liga cannot be completed, a source has confirmed to ESPN.
Atletico Madrid would be the big losers in that scenario, with Diego Simeone’s side sitting sixth in the table when the coronavirus pandemic saw the league suspended indefinitely with 11 games to go.
Getafe have won at Real Sociedad, but because they still have to play them at home they sit out of the Champions League places on goals scored (with goal difference identical).
The third and final Europa League spot, if the Copa del Rey final cannot be played, would be taken by the highest-placed finalist not in the top six. That would be Athletic Bilbao, with Real Sociedad fourth in the table.
In the event the league is able to restart but is then unable to be finished, the standings at the time of the suspension of the league would be used to decide European qualification.
If the season cannot be resumed and is cancelled, one of the major talking points among the European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA is how to decide who would qualify for European competitions next season.
Earlier this month, UEFA postponed deadlines related to all 2020-21 UEFA club competitions until further notice, in particular with regards to the admission process.
A number of ideas have been floated, including using the final standings from 2018-19, although sources at both UEFA and La Liga stress the emphasis remains on finishing the campaign.
For that reason, the RFEF’s proposal has not been well-received by La Liga. The two have a long history of political differences, but in this case, the RFEF has the authority to make the final decision. A league source said they cannot understand why the RFEF would approve a list of clubs for UEFA without reaching a point where the competition has to be cancelled — especially when they are under no time pressure to do so.
The same source added that the decision should not have been made unilaterally without the agreement of La Liga. The RFEF, though, do have the last word on which Spanish teams qualify for Europe, while La Liga will have the final say on deciding the league title and relegation from Spain’s top flight.
La Liga president Javier Tebas remains optimistic that the league will be able to be completed. In a video conference with international media last week, he revealed they are tentatively working on three possible re-start dates.
“The options being discussed are May 28 [La Liga would play through June and UEFA competitions in July], June 6 [La Liga and European competitions together] and June 28 [La Liga in July and European competitions in August],” he said.
Meanwhile, league sources explained that they continue to work on a protocol to allow clubs to return to training once the state of alarm is lifted in Spain, which will be on April 26 if it is not extended again.
The plans include a slow return to individual training, followed by work in small groups before teams are allowed to train as normal once again.
During this time, players would be tested for coronavirus at least three times: before returning to individual training, before group sessions and just before the competition restarts.
Barca coach Quique Setien, whose side held a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the standings when the campaign was indefinitely postponed, does not think it is so simple.
“Everyone wants to be ready for when the season starts again but that cannot happen until the health authorities can guarantee that there will be no problems,” Setien told Catalan radio station RAC1 on Thursday.
“I have read the protocol and the reality is I don’t know if it can be carried out as it is written, I think it’s unworkable, I think it’s very difficult logistically.”
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets also expressed doubts about the feasability of clubs holding training camps.
“We can start training again little by little but it will be difficult once everyone comes together and the competition starts again and teams start travelling,” he told Spanish radio stations Onda Cero and Cadena Cope.
“I have heard that La Liga wants teams to concentrate for a few months, I think that’s too much and it cannot be done. There will be too many problems.”
Information from Reuters was used in this report.