* Championship will finish on July 11
* National Cup final to be played on July 4
* Headers banned during first week after training resumption
* No showers after training to be allowed
By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, May 7 (Reuters) - Bulgaria’s top division will resume after the COVID-19 stoppage on June 5 without spectators in a shortened format, which would allow the league season to be completed within a month, the country’s football union (BFU) said on Thursday.
The decision means the top tier comprising 14 clubs will play another two rounds of matches to complete the regular season, while championship and relegation playoffs requiring an additional 10 rounds have been reduced to five.
The Balkan state’s league has been on hold since March 13 as part of countrywide lockdown measures which have begun to be eased with athletes allowed to conduct individual outdoor training.
As of Thursday, the Black Sea country had 1,811 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 84 deaths.
Ludogorets, who have won the title for the past eight seasons, topped the standings with 55 points from 23 matches, nine more than Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia.
The league season will end on July 11 while the Bulgarian Cup final will take place on July 4, the BFU said.
The following campaign will start on July 25, three days after the domestic Super Cup, the traditional pre-season curtain raiser.
The clubs were allowed to resume team training next week after a detailed plan, developed by the BFU, was submitted to the health minister. All players would undergo testing for the novel coronavirus three days before returning to training.
According to the plan the players, already dressed in training kits, should arrive for sessions in their own cars and not use the baths in the dressing rooms. They should keep a distance of five metres during exercises.
All players, including goalkeepers, won’t be allowed to touch the ball with their hands during the first week of competition. Headers, handshakes and shirt exchanges are also banned.
The BFU’s medical commission recommended refreshment breaks midway through the two halves as well as additional substitutions with the BFU expected to announce a final decision in the coming days.
The match official meetings, as well as news conferences, should be held outdoors with all present wearing protective masks, the BFU said.
The German Football League (DFL) announced on Thursday that the Bundesliga season will restart on May 16 after a suspension of more than two months, becoming the first European league to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov Editing by Christian Radnedge)