Which football leagues have been suspended by coronavirus and when will they return?

Lionel Messi Jurgen Klopp Cristiano RonaldoGetty/Goal composite

The coronavirus pandemic has caused almost every professional football league around the world to suspend play.

Despite initially trying to play on through the outbreak, governments stepped in to ensure matches were played behind closed doors, before the leagues were ultimately suspended.

Goal takes a look at the state of the major leagues across Europe as they look to finish their seasons in a timely manner.

Article continues below

Which football leagues have been suspended?

Serie A was first to suspend play with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte banning sporting events in the Lombardy and Veneto regions in February.

It was then announced on March 4 that all matches in the country would have to be played behind closed doors before calling a halt to Serie A proceedings on March 9.

Just a few days later, La Liga was suspended after a Real Madrid basketball player tested positive for Covid-19 and the entire Real Madrid football team was placed in quarantine due to the two sides sharing a training facility.

The 2020 MLS season was just two weeks old when commissioner Don Garber postponed the campaign for at least a month on March 12 - a period which was subsequently extended.

March 13 proved to be arguably the most damning day in football, with the Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga all suspending their respective leagues in the space of 24 hours.

The English Football League suspended the Championship, League One and League Two on March 13.

When will football leagues return?

LeagueIntended Return Date
BundesligaMay 16
Serie AMay / June TBC
Premier LeagueJune TBC
La LigaSuspended indefinitely
MLSJune 8
Ligue 1Cancelled

A number of leagues intend to return around the same time, with dates in May and June circled as possibilities. However, actual return dates are subject to the virus containment efforts and governmental assent.

The Bundesliga will return to action - behind closed doors on May 16 after approval from the German government. It had initially aimed for an April date, but circumstances were not deemed conducive to the safe return of games. Clubs in Italy are preparing to return to training ahead of a resumption, but it is unclear when exactly it will be permitted, with the country's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora saying there is "no way" matches can resume at present.

The Premier League had initially been on a similar time frame, but changed their forecast to April 30 in an announcement on March 19, before subsequently conceding that action would not resume at the beginning of May. League bosses are now aiming for a June return to action. Similarly, La Liga was on the early April schedule, but has now made the suspension length indefinite, though clubs are returning to training.

MLS was initially targeting a May 10 return date, but that has now been extended until June 8 based on US government guidance. Ligue 1 was suspended ‘until further notice’ back in April and had been targeting a June 17 resumption date, but those plans were scuppered when French prime minister Edouard Philippe said that "big sporting affairs cannot occur before September".

That decision was criticised by the head of La Liga, Javier Tebas, who said: "I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line or being on a fishing boat on the high seas."

Forecasts vary by country, driven by the different degrees to which their respective populations have been affected. For example, while some countries are hopeful of action being back by May, the chief executive of Spanish broadcaster Mediapro Jaume Roures believes July is a realistic time for La Liga to aim for.