Northern Ireland have been consigned to relegation in the Nations League just hours before their clash against Romania on Wednesday.

The UEFA appeals body awarded Romania a 3-0 win over Norway after the Scandinavian side failed to fulfil the fixture on Sunday, following Omar Elabdellaoui testing positive for coronavirus.

Romania consequently moved six points clear of bottom side Northern Ireland prior to their meeting at Windsor Park in the final round of matches in Group B1.

The chairman of the UEFA appeals body decided: "To declare the 2020-21 Nations League match between Romania and Norway, that was scheduled to be played on 15 November 2020, as forfeited by the Norwegian Football Association [who is therefore deemed to have lost the match 3-0] for being responsible for the match not taking place."

With third-placed Romania now out of reach, Northern Ireland will spend the next Nations League campaign in League C.

Norway sent an entirely different team to Austria for Wednesday's match to decide who earns promotion to League A.

Under-21 coach Leif Gunnar Smerud was given the task of overseeing a Norway squad that included just one player who has featured in one of their previous games in the Group B campaign.

Ukraine's Nations League away match against Switzerland was called off on Tuesday after the visitors were put into quarantine by local health authorities due to a spate of COVID-19 cases.

The Group A4 match in Lucerne was in doubt from the moment Swiss regional health officials declared their decision regarding the Ukraine travelling party.

Three Ukraine players tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday and there were four further positives announced on Tuesday - affecting Ruslan Malinovskiy, Sergei Kryvtsov, Junior Moraes and a member of the coaching staff.

Kryvtsov and Moraes had previously tested positive for COVID-19 and had antibodies in their system that prevented reinfection, the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF) said.

Ukraine press officer Oleksandr Hlyvynskyi said in a statement: "UEFA informed the Ukrainian Football Association that 'due to the competent decision of the Department of Health of the Canton of Lucerne to quarantine the entire delegation of the national team of Ukraine, the UEFA Nations League match Switzerland - Ukraine cannot take place'.

"Note that UEFA, UAF and the Swiss Football Association are ready for the match, but the ban [issued by] local authorities cancels all hopes of football organisations to hold the game.

"The decision on the future of the match will be made by UEFA."

The Swiss FA also confirmed the match would not go ahead, saying the Ukrainians could not produce a replacement team to contest the fixture.

Ukraine were sitting third in the group ahead of the final round of fixtures, with Switzerland winless from five games and bottom on three points.

Norway's Nations League clash with Romania on Sunday was also called off after Norwegian health authorities banned the team from travelling due to a positive coronavirus case.

Toni Kroos has accused FIFA and UEFA of treating footballers like "puppets" by creating new tournaments at club and international level.

Kroos will this week represent Germany in the Nations League, a competition formed two years ago with the aim of replacing friendly matches.

The Club World Cup has also recently been expanded and there is talk of a new European Super League being formed in the coming years.

However, Real Madrid midfielder Kroos is completely against the idea of cramming more fixtures into an already packed schedule.

"With the invention of all these new things we seem to be just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA," he said.

"These competitions are created to suck everything out of every single player physically and to suck out as much money as possible.

"When certain things work well it is a good idea to leave them that way."

Speaking on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast, which he hosts together with brother Felix, Kroos also took aim at fellow professionals who choreograph their goal celebrations.

Referencing celebrations by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has previously sported a Spiderman mask, and Antoine Griezmann, who simulates dance moves from video game Fortnite, Kroos said: "I find it very silly.

"Even worse is if there are any objects hidden in their socks. Aubameyang once celebrated and took out a mask. That's where it ends with me.

"I don't think that's a good role model, either. What nonsense."

Thorgan Hazard is unimpressed by the intense schedule players are facing in the 2020-21season ahead of Belgium's upcoming international triple-header.

The 27-year-old winger is in the Red Devils' squad for the friendly with Switzerland and Nations League matches against England and Denmark, all of which are in the next nine days.

Hazard has only played 135 minutes of Bundesliga football this season due to a ruptured thigh muscle ruling him out for around a month.

But the busy schedule of elite players – particularly those whose clubs have qualified for continental football – is not lost on him.

UEFA has received significant flak for its part in the increasingly busy calendar, as it opted to turn the October and November international breaks into three-match periods instead of sticking with the usual two games, a move it says was made to recover the dates postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's all too much, not just for me," Hazard told reporters on Monday. "Champions League, Bundesliga, Nations League…I don't want to complain too much because we have to do our job, but it is a lot.

"Well, here at the Red Devils, everyone will get playing time. The national coach has selected many players. Playing them in all three matches for 90 minutes would be difficult.

"The players will not burn themselves out. Our coaches also ask us to be careful, not to risk too much.

"We also play with Dortmund every three days. It is a difficult issue – the national coaches also have to do their job. If we don't feel well, let's just say so."

Belgium have already lost three players to injury on Monday, with Leandro Trossard, Alexis Saelemaekers and Hendrik van Crombrugge pulling out – only the latter has been replaced, with Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski called up.

Hazard's brother Eden was already ruled out having recently tested positive for coronavirus, meaning the Real Madrid winger will have gone more than a year without playing for Belgium by the time of his next cap.

"One year is indeed a long time," Thorgan Hazard said of his older brother's absence. "I hope this will be over soon. Both Belgium and Madrid miss Eden.

"He is one of the best players in the world and it is always better to have him in your squad. Madrid lost last weekend without him and the Red Devils were also defeated in England. We all need an Eden at 100 per cent.

"Nevertheless, he feels good. He is in good health and shows no symptoms [of COVID-19]. He is quarantined at home in Madrid and unfortunately he is not here.

"It was really a surprise for him, an unpleasant one. The injury was gone and then coronavirus was showing up. I really hope that next time there is not something again.

"He's really unlucky. These are another two weeks gone. What can he do about it? Nothing."

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is glad to have "completely cleared my name" after being acquitted by a Swiss court of inciting aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi had been charged in a case relating to beIN Media Group's allocation of television rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

The case also involved ex-FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, who was found guilty of forging documents relating to separate media rights and given a 120-day suspended prison sentence.

A statement from PSG chief Al-Khelaifi, who is also part of UEFA's executive committee, read: "Today's verdict is a total vindication.

"After a relentless four-year campaign against me that ignored the basic facts and the law at every turn, I have finally, fully and completely cleared my name.

"It restores my faith in the rule of law and in due process, after four years of baseless allegations, fictitious charges and constant smears of my reputation - all of which have been proven to be completely and wholly unsubstantiated."

He added: "I can now devote all my energy to my various roles, which are all focused on building a positive future for world sport - at a time when the industry needs strong leadership the most."

 

Robert Lewandowski was the logical choice to win UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award - to give it to anyone else would have been a brave call.

How could a player who scored 55 goals in the 2019-20 season, including 15 in the Champions League, possibly be denied.

Fellow nominees Manuel Neuer and Kevin De Bruyne were also terrific last term, but this was a one-horse race.

UEFA duly got it right, rewarding Bayern Munich's Polish goal machine with a shiny trophy to sit alongside the medals he is stacking up at home.

WAS IT THE PERFECT SEASON?

Lionel Messi scored 58 goals from 57 games in Barcelona's treble-winning 2014-15 season, but Lewandowski's feat can sit comfortably in that company

The Bayern frontman netted his staggering haul from just 47 appearances, and it feels cruel that he cannot land a Ballon d'Or this year, with that award scrapped because of the pandemic.

Lewandowski would surely have walked off with that prized golden ball, after an exemplary year of leading the Bayern forward line that invited comparisons with the great Gerd Muller.

He is a shoo-in, surely, for the Best Men's Player prize at the FIFA awards, should that event go ahead.

In the Bundesliga, Lewandowski plundered 34 goals in 31 games, netting on average once every 81.24 minutes.

He was even deadlier in the Champions League, though.

TAKING EUROPE BY STORM

Bayern scored 43 goals in a Champions League campaign that culminated in their 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon, and Lewandowski netted a heroic 15 of those.

He scored in every game he played until the final of the competition, when Kingsley Coman was the unlikely match-winner.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker netted a goal every 59.13 minutes, Opta statistics show, and he had five assists into the bargain.

Only PSG's Angel Di Maria, with six, had more assists over the Champions League campaign.

There were abundant highlights in Lewandowski's season, but one was certainly his performance against Red Star Belgrade on November 26, when he scored four goals in a little over 14 second-half minutes as Bayern won 6-0 in the Serbian capital.

GOALS GALORE, GONGS GALORE

Apart from the Ballon d'Or being off the table, Lewandowski is getting his dues.

Already recognised as Germany's player of the year, the UEFA recognition lavishes a fresh accolade on a player who dazzled throughout an unforgettable 2019-20 campaign.

Recalling the moment of Bayern's Champions League triumph, Lewandowski said on Thursday: "That meant a lot."

He harked back to being in the Borussia Dortmund side seven years ago that lost to Bayern in the Champions League final, saying: "I was very disappointed and sad. I said to myself that I can never give up.

"This year we did it. It is something you dream of from being a young boy. Now I know this feeling and I'm very proud of all the team because what we did in the season was very special."

Bayern Munich added a major double to their famous treble as striker Robert Lewandowski and head coach Hansi Flick were honoured with UEFA's top individual awards on Thursday. 

Lewandowski scored 55 goals last season, including 15 in the Champions League, and he collected the UEFA Men's Player of the Year prize, while Flick was presented with the Men's Coach of the Year honour. 

Last season saw Bayern sweep the board with their Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League triumphs to seal a stunning treble. 

Former Germany assistant boss Flick took charge at Bayern in November after the team experienced a slow start to the season under predecessor Niko Kovac, and their results began to dramatically improve. 

The German giants have already scooped UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup victories in the early weeks of the new season, meaning they hold five significant trophies. 

Lewandowski, who fended off competition from fellow nominees Manuel Neuer and Kevin De Bruyne, said of his award: "I have to say it's an amazing feeling. 

"If you work so hard and you get this trophy it's something special."

The 32-year-old Poland international added: "I have to say thank you to my team-mates, my coaches and all the staff because they work very hard to prepare me, and also to my family because they support me a lot and that, for me, is very important. 

"When I was young, I always dreamed of playing in the big stadiums, at the big clubs in the world, and now I'm on this stage I have to say the dream has come true. I'm very proud, I'm very grateful and I'm very happy." 

The individual accolades are a welcome complement to the team successes, and they are flooding in at Bayern. 

Lewandowski won Germany's Footballer of the Year award in August after his remarkable campaign, with Flick named as the top coach in the country. 

Now they have fresh recognition from European football's governing body, the organisers of the Champions League, and it was a Bayern love-in at the UEFA ceremony. 

Neuer received the Goalkeeper of the Year trophy, the versatile Joshua Kimmich picked up the Defender of the Year honour and Lewandowski went home with the Striker of the Year prize alongside his main award. 

It was not quite a clean sweep by the Bavarians, however, with Manchester City's De Bruyne taking the Midfielder of the Year accolade. 

In the awards recognising achievement in the women's game, Lyon's Champions League-winning coach Jean-Luc Vasseur and former Wolfsburg forward Pernille Harder, who recently joined Chelsea, claimed the top honours. 

UEFA has expressed its delight at the smooth running of Thursday's Super Cup between Bayern Munich and Sevilla, as fans were welcomed back to a major European match for the first time since March.

Sporting events across the world have largely been played behind closed doors since the coronavirus pandemic initially brought most events to a halt six months ago.

As countries began to take control of the virus, various governing bodies around Europe started to plan for fans to return in reduced capacity, with France already allowing small numbers back.

Despite Thursday's Super Cup between Champions League winners Bayern and Europa League holders Sevilla coming as much of Europe began to re-tighten social restrictions ahead of a second wave of COVID-19, UEFA used the event in Budapest, Hungary as a 'pilot' for re-opening stadiums.

The 67,000-seater Puskas Arena had 15,500 people in attendance for Bayern's 2-1 extra-time win, with fans expected to maintain a five-foot distance from each other where possible and ordered to wear masks when moving around the stadium. UEFA also installed thermal cameras at entrances to check body temperatures.

UEFA believes the event ran according to plan with respect to the health and sanitary measures, and it plans to review the organisational aspects with Hungarian Football Federation.

"The match organisation went smoothly," a UEFA spokesperson said.

"Spectators accepted the precautionary measures and followed the sanitary guidelines and instructions provided by the stewards.

"UEFA will now thoroughly assess the various aspects of the organisation together with the Hungarian Football Federation and the local authorities.

"We were delighted to again feel a true football atmosphere and it once again demonstrates that the fans are the lifeblood of the game and that football is so great thanks to their passion and support."

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists football must "become more rational" due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

After an enforced two-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bundesliga returned in May, with Europe's other top-five major leagues – with the exception of Ligue 1, which opted to cancel the remainder of its season – resuming in June.

Bayern have recorded eight straight league victories since the campaign restarted and wrapped up their eighth successive Bundesliga title last title last week, with Hansi Flick's side taking on Wolfsburg in their last match of the top-flight season on Saturday before they face Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal final.

Rummenigge believes the Bundesliga provided the perfect example of how to restart football safely behind closed doors, though he is expecting the European game – especially in relation to big-money transfers – to change drastically.

"Football has to try to become a bit more rational in order to be more stable for future crises," Rummenigge, who had previously revealed Bayern would be cautious with their transfer policy over coming seasons, told Handelsblatt.

"In the past 10 years, with this ever-higher-ever-further-ever-faster sums for player transfers and player salaries, football has shot a long way past the goal. 

"This can no longer be called rational. That filled every summer break. We have to find better solutions in Europe."

Rummenigge is not convinced, however, that the introduction of a salary cap would be a feasible option, instead preferring more stringent Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

"The legal requirements probably do not allow this [a salary cap]," he said.

"No, we need more rationality, and we have to develop FFP in Europe more rigorously with clear, key figures. Originally, it was always about not spending more money than is earned."

Rummenigge also added it was crucial to get football back up and running once the worst of the crisis was over.

"Football had no special position, but the Bundesliga was very disciplined," he said.

"There were some politicians who barely missed a chance to criticise the Bundesliga. It would be nice and decent if you could hear a turn now.

"Because as you can see, everything went well. Millions of fans in Germany are happy weekend after weekend that football can at least be seen on TV again. There were no problems. Many international leagues have followed the German example."

All 12 host cities for Euro 2020 will remain the same when the tournament takes place a year later than planned in 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis.

A meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee was held via videoconference on Wednesday.

After their deliberations, European football's governing body announced a host of decisions, including on how the Champions League and Europa League would be completed.

It was also confirmed the original 12 venues would host matches in the rescheduled Euros.

The meeting had been postponed in May after UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said nine cities had affirmed their commitment to hosting, though there were issues with the remaining three.

But those concerns have been alleviated and, along with confirming the 12 venues, an updated match schedule was also approved.

The tournament will begin with a game between Italy and Turkey in Rome on June 11, 2021 with the final taking place a month later in London on July 11.

Baku, Copenhagen, Munich, Budapest, Amsterdam, Dublin, Bucharest, St Petersburg, Glasgow and Bilbao are the other host cities.

"All existing tickets remain valid for the tournament in 2021," added a UEFA statement.

"Existing ticket buyers who nevertheless wish to return their ticket(s), will have a final opportunity to request a refund from June 18 to June 25.

"The Executive Committee expressed its appreciation to the host associations, cities and their authorities for their continuous support and commitment in organising the postponed Euro 2020."

Four spaces in the 24-team competition remain up for grabs as the play-offs are yet to take place.

The October and November international windows are to become triple-headers rather than double-headers, meaning those ties can be played on October 8 and November 12.

Meanwhile, a new season of Nations League action will begin on September 3, with group-stage matches taking place at regular intervals until November 18.

"UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone Euro 2020," said Ceferin.

"But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion. 

"While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days."

The next UEFA executive committee meeting has been delayed until June 17 due to unresolved issues with proposed venues for next year's Euro 2020.

The meeting had initially been scheduled to take place on May 27.

Euro 2020 was due to get under way across 12 different locations in June but was pushed back by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg were scheduled to host games.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told beIN SPORTS on Sunday that nine cities have affirmed their commitment to hosting matches in 2021, though there were issues with the remaining three.

"We've had conversations with nine cities and everything is set," said Ceferin.

"With three cities, we have some issues. So we will discuss further. In principle, we will do it in 12 cities but if not, we are ready to do it in 10, nine or eight."

In order to gain greater clarity on the circumstances surrounding host venues for the tournament, the executive committee will meet three weeks later than planned.

A UEFA statement released on Monday read: "UEFA today announced that the next meeting of its executive committee, originally scheduled for May 27, has been postponed to June 17, 2020, due to the existence of some remaining open points regarding a small number of proposed venues for the rearranged UEFA Euro 2020 next year."

Euro 2020 was delayed to create space for the completion of domestic leagues, the majority of which have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Bundesliga returned behind closed doors last weekend, while Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A clubs have been permitted to return to group training – though some restrictions remain in place – this week.

Top flights in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland were ended prematurely.

UEFA has clarified it is not planning to make changes to its club competitions access list for next season.

Earlier this week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told beIN SPORT he thought the decision to cancel the remainder of the season in Ligue 1 and 2 was "premature".

It was suggested that clubs from leagues who have taken the decision to end the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Eredivisie and Belgian Pro League having also taken such a step, would have to take part in preliminary qualifying rounds for UEFA competitions next term.

But Europe's governing body has moved to clear up the confusion, insisting only teams who have finished in positions whereby they enter at that stage will need to do so.

A UEFA statement on Twitter read: "With regard to the way some quotes in an interview with beIN have been reported, UEFA wishes to make clear that President Ceferin said that clubs from leagues which were abandoned in this season would still need to be ready to play qualification rounds for next season according to the current access list. 

"He did not mention or hint at any change to the UEFA club competitions access list."

Speaking this week, Ceferin said he felt more time should have been taken before ending leagues.

"For us, the important thing is that we know who is the champion, who is second, who is third, and fourth," he said.

"My personal opinion is that you cancel a season super early, it's not an ideal thing because things can improve a lot and everybody can play except a few leagues.

"But if it's the decision of the government, what can the clubs do? Or the league? They cannot do anything. But for me the decision was premature. But it doesn't affect UEFA, so it's their decision."

The outbreak of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the calendar in European football.

This weekend, the Bundesliga will be the first of the major UEFA leagues to return to action.

Common Goal reached a milestone on Tuesday – 150 players or managers signed up to the charity movement.

Manchester City and Scotland star Caroline Weir made the pledge to commit one per cent of her income to sporting charities.

Led by Manchester United's Juan Mata and Street Football World, Common Goal was launched in 2017 – a project used to fund charities across the globe, which has raised more than €2million.

Mata, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, Bayern Munich forward Serge Gnabry, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels are among the high-profile footballers to have joined the cause, while Danish outfit FC Nordsjaelland are the first professional club involved.

But it is the women – the likes of Weir, United States female stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe – female leadership and the new generation, led by 16-year-old Real Madrid youth-team player Bruno Iglesias and Wolfsburg's Xaver Schlager, shining through.

And while Common Goal has come a long way since its launch, the organisation is not resting on its laurels as it tackles the "greatest social challenges of our time" and eyes a collective effort.

"We reached 150 and it's a female, a 24-year-old, playing for Manchester City, she already has more than 70 caps for her country, she is doing her degree, she is a very smart woman, an extraordinary footballer," Ben Miller, one of the founding team of Common Goal, told Stats Perform. "It's very significant but again it's a woman or the female leadership that's shining through Common Goal.

"There's a huge diversity of players in this team of professionals and it's really reflective of football. Yes, Chiellini, Hummels, Gnabry and Klopp are there, and Casey Stoney, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe but there's players from second and third divisions and that's what it's like.

"Football is like a triangle, not many are at the top of it. Interestingly in the female membership, most of the women are at the top of their profession, at the top of the triangle. If you look at the male membership, there are a significant number of high-profile players who have shown a great deal of faith in the model.

"If we work as a team, we can actually have a significant contribution to making the world a better place through football itself, with a mechanism which is transparent and high-impact and aligned to the UN sustainable development goal, so it has a clear track towards 2030. We're all very ambitious to see this work but we have a way to go before we reach a tipping point, where it really becomes a normal thing to do if you're an athlete."

"To start with a single player, and now it's 150, yes, it's amazing," he added. "But, one per cent of what the football industry generated last year would be €400million and there are a lot of football players. I'm happy but we have to continue to grow this and explain how simple it is. It's not one thing or the other. The way this will work is the power of the collective. I'm happy but we still have a long way to go and I think these landmarks are important because they give us a boost to keep going.

At a time of crisis as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc globally, Common Goal has set up the COVID-19 Response Fund – supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children.

"It's not reinventing the wheel, it's using the existing network of football-based community projects that are in the heart of the communities that will be hardest hit by COVID-19," Miller said. "Caroline Weir for example, her donation will go towards the response fund. Existing members, who are coming up to the end of the year and will do another donation, they can choose to put that in the COVID-19 fund as well. You don't have to be a Common Goal member to participate, anyone can donate.

"The idea is to give immediate response but to give the mid- to long-term support that the organisations will need to re-establish themselves. All the programs are on hold, people need access to food and medicine, survival basics… help empower the young boys and girls."

Common Goal, though, is not without its challenges amid cynicism and a lack of trust within the football world towards charity organisations. Klopp made the pledge in front of a star-studded crowd during The Best FIFA Football Awards in September. However, no one made contact or wanted to find out about Common Goal following the announcement in Milan.

But with 90 per cent of donations going directly to charities, compared to 50 per cent in a lot of cases with other charities, Miller has faith in what Common Goal is building, thanks to its members – with several players donating significantly more than one per cent.

"You have a 16-year-old kid [Iglesias], who has made the decision, not to wait until he gets in Real Madrid's first team and the senior Spain team but he is going to do it now. He is going to make this part of his journey, no matter where he goes," Miller continued.

"This just gives me an incredible amount of faith in the future, that this new, younger generation of players who are embracing this from the word go. They're not going to wait until they reach a certain level and allow people to make these kinds of decisions for them. Because making this decision is a fundamental part of who they are as a human being."

Miller added: "It's the first time in our lifetime that a crisis that's happening in the real world has actually penetrated the bubble of elite football players. They've never been affected by anything before. The ones that are in touch are still in touch of what's happening – they're aware that there are 70 million displaced people because of the refugee crisis. But a lot simply aren't and it's not a criticism to them, it's just the world in which they live, it's very insular.

"We're all in the same boat. We're all the same – that's the fundamental message. If I don't care about you, you don't care about me, we don't care about what's happening in Australia, Spain or the UK, then we don't stand much of a chance of tackling any of the crises we face."

UEFA has requested all top European leagues be in a position to communicate their plans to finish the 2019-20 by May 25.

The deadline was put forward as part of the governing body's guidelines on eligibility principles for 2020-21 UEFA club competitions.

Following a meeting of its executive committee last week, UEFA strongly recommended all leagues on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic be completed where possible.

It proposed top divisions could be seen out with a different format, or, where resumption is not feasible, national associations could decide places for next season's continental competitions "on sporting merit".

UEFA expects all leagues to have a plan in place for how they will proceed ahead of the next executive committee meeting on May 27.

The organisation's guidelines read: "National associations and/or leagues should be in a position to communicate to UEFA by May 25, 2020 the planned restart of their domestic competitions including the date of restart and the relevant competition format.

"In the event that a domestic competition is to be prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons in accordance with [conditions set out by the executive committee], UEFA would require the national association to explain by May 25, 2020 … the special circumstances justifying such premature termination and to select clubs for UEFA club competitions 2020-21 on the basis of sporting merit in the 2019-20 domestic competitions."

Bundesliga clubs have returned to training and could be back on the pitch from May 9, while Serie A teams are expected to be able to practice together the following week.

The situation remains unclear in the Premier League, LaLiga and Ligue 1.

After professional sports were banned in the Netherlands until September 1, the Eredivisie announced the cancellation of its 2019-20 season last week.

No champions were declared and there was no promotion or relegation, with European qualification determined by the table when the league was suspended.

KNVB Beker finalists Utrecht consequently missed out on a place in the Europa League qualifiers and stated they intended to legally challenge the ruling.

UEFA's member associations will benefit from a €236.5million fund to help "meet the challenges of COVID-19".

Each of the 55 members will be able to access up to €4.3m, paid across this season and next, and use it however they see fit.

The money comes from the European governing body's HatTrick funding, which usually helps with running costs and other specific areas of domestic football.

UEFA has eased those limitations so that associations can deliver the finance where it is most needed as football remains on lockdown across the continent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our sport is facing an unprecedented challenge brought about by the COVID-19 crisis," said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin in a statement on Monday.

"UEFA wants to help its members to respond in ways that are appropriate to their specific circumstances. 

"As a result, we have agreed that up to €4.3million per association, paid for the remainder of this season and next, as well as part of the investment funding, can be used as our members see fit to rebuild the football community.

"I believe this is a responsible decision to help as much as we can; and I am proud of the unity that football is showing throughout this crisis. 

"Without doubt, football will be at the heart of life returning to normal. When that time comes, football must be ready to answer that call."

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