May 12, 2020 / 6:02 PM / 13 days ago

Soccer-Czech top tier matches to resume on May 23

PRAGUE, May 12 (Reuters) - The top two soccer leagues in the Czech Republic will resume playing on May 23 after an agreement was reached with clubs to extend the season which was halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the League Football Association said on Tuesday.

The re-start makes the Czech league one of the first in Europe to take to the pitch again, following the Bundesliga in neighboring Germany which is set to begin matches on May 16.

Czech clubs will initially play without spectators before allowing in a limited number of supporters to attend matches at some point.

Players will have to adhere to strict social distancing rules, including during travel, and will also stay in single rooms in hotels.

Public health officers will monitor matches and any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will have to serve a period in quarantine. An entire team could also be quarantined in such instances, seznamzpravy.cz reported.

The league will not crown a champion or relegate a team if the season is not completed.

The plan is for two games to be played per week and to complete the season by July 18. Player contracts that were due to expire at the end of June will now be valid until the close of the season, the website added.

Holders Slavia Prague hold an eight-point lead over Viktoria Plzen at the top of the standings after completing 24 of 30 rounds before the coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of the league.

All competitive matches and collective training sessions stopped on March 12 after the country implemented one of the strictest measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

In recent days the Czech Republic has eased much of the restrictions. The country has reported 8,198 cases with 282 deaths. (Reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by Michael Kahn and Pritha Sarkar)

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