GENEVA (AP) — UEFA will let Champions League group-stage games be played deep into January to complete any fixtures postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
UEFA ratified emergency competition rules Thursday that allow for seven extra weeks to make up games beyond the scheduled sixth and final round of fixtures on Dec. 9.
Any game which cannot be played by Jan. 28 will be forfeited as a 3-0 loss by the team responsible for the failure. The same rules apply to the Europa League.
Several clubs whose players tested positive for COVID-19 and had squads isolated in quarantine have forfeited games in recent weeks during the tightly scheduled qualifying rounds when there was little chance to reschedule games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld UEFA’s decisions.
However, those games were also not part of UEFA’s broadcasting deals worth more than 3.25 billion euros ($3.8 billion dollars) for its club competitions each season. Broadcasters are due rebates from UEFA totaling 575 million euros ($680 million) for pandemic disruption and fewer knockout games last season.
The draw for the first knockout round in both competitions is set to be held Dec. 14 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. But since the knockout stages don’t begin until mid-February, UEFA will allow time to reschedule games.
UEFA also detailed how compensation could be paid to a home team if a group-stage game must be played in a neutral country because of travel restrictions imposed by the away team’s home nation.
The compensation could amount to 10% of the fixed starting fee that UEFA pays to each club that qualifies — equivalent to 1.45 million euros ($1.7 million) in the Champions League, and 275,000 euros ($320,000) in the Europa League.
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