Uefa has urged clubs to “explore all possible options” to finish domestic seasons and use “a different format” if needed in order for teams to qualify for European competitions.
European football’s governing body wants clubs to qualify for European competitions through “sporting merit”.
If league seasons cannot be finished it said national associations would need to select clubs to qualify for Europe.
Uefa said it could “refuse or evaluate” selected teams if necessary.
But after a video call meeting of all 55 national associations it is clear Uefa wants on-field performance to determine which clubs make up next season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions despite the current shutdown of major leagues because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Spanish Football Association suggested places being allocated on the basis of club coefficient, which calculates performance in European club competitions over a five year period.
Had the method been taken up, Atletico Madrid, who are currently outside the top four in La Liga would have qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Real Sociedad, while in the Premier League Manchester United would have done the same at the expense of Leicester City.
“Uefa urges National Associations and Leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to Uefa club competitions to their natural conclusion,” Uefa said in a statement.
“The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for Uefa club competitions on sporting merit in their original format.
“Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.”
Uefa could reject European selections
Uefa did not make clear what a “different format” would look like but it raises the prospect of mini tournaments or play-off style matches being used to decide European qualification if seasons cannot be finished.
The Premier League has nine rounds of fixtures remaining but in Spain and Italy there are still 11 and 12 rounds left respectively.
The Dutch Eredivisie announced it was unlikely to complete the current season because of an extension of government restrictions until 1 September, while Belgium’s top division, the Jupiler League, is also set to be cancelled despite there being just one regular-season game and play-offs to be played.
Uefa said National Associations can select clubs if their leagues cannot be finished for “legitimate reasons”.
If a season is not finished for reasons that do not meet Uefa guidelines then the body can reject the teams put forward by a national association.
It said it could refuse selections if they were not deemed to have been chosen in a way which was “objective, transparent and non-discriminatory” and can also refuse entry to selected teams if “there is a public perception of unfairness in the qualification of the club”.
Euro 2020 name will remain
At Thursday’s meeting Uefa also confirmed the postponed Euro 2020 tournament will still be known as Uefa Euro 2020 despite being moved to 2021.
“This decision allows Uefa to keep the original vision of the tournament to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championships (1960 – 2020),” Uefa added.
“It will furthermore serve to remember how the whole football family came together to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficult times Europe, and the world, had to go through in 2020.
“This choice is in line with Uefa’s commitment to make Euro 2020 sustainable and not to generate additional amounts of waste. A lot of branded material had already been produced by the time of the tournament’s postponement. A change to the name of the event would have meant the destruction and reproduction of such items.”