WARSAW, April 25 (Reuters) - Poland’s professional football league said it intends to re-start matches on May 29 and complete the season by July 19 after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki gave the go ahead on Saturday for games to be played without spectators.
In doing so, Poland became one of the first European countries to give a date for the resumption of the season which has been on hold because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Top-flight teams in Germany and Austria have already begun training for a potential re-start but say a starting date still depends on approval from their respective governments.
Poland, which has reported 11,067 cases and 499 deaths, started relaxing some curbs earlier in April. It has reopened forests and parks and eased rules on the number of customers in shops and on Saturday also announced the opening of outdoor sports areas.
“This is excellent news,” said Marcin Animucki, president of the league which is known as the Ekstraklasa. “The government’s consent to resume training gives us a chance to implement the plan we have been working on for the last four weeks.
“If there are no unexpected problems, and the health situation in the country allows it, after passing the preparation period the league could start on 29 May.”
He added that European soccer body UEFA had recommended that the season finish by July 20.
The statement also laid out a plan for the resumption of activities which it said had been approved by the government.
It said that players and coaching staff at each club had already started a 14-day period of isolation and daily reporting aimed at detecting possible symptoms.
It said that teams could start training on May 4, in small groups, and full team training would begin after one week. On May 27-28, there would be testing of players, coaching staff and referees with matches to start on May 29.
“Each stage in the plan depends on the epidemic situation in the country and the recommendations of the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Health,” it added.
There are 11 rounds of matches still to play. Legia Warsaw lead the table with 51 points from 26 games, eight clear of Piast Gliwice. (Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Christian Radnedge)