Predicting the Bundesliga's Return
On March the 11th, a historic Bundesliga game was played: Borussia Mönchengladbach beat Köln 2-1 behind closed doors in a bid to avoid infection from the coronavirus.
But as the virus continued its relentless march across the globe, these Geisterspiele - or ghost games - were themselves judged to be too risky.
Last week, the Bundesliga’s CEO, Christian Seifert, gave a press conference and in the course of his statement, he revealed a 41-page plan that the league was presenting to the German government proposing a potential return for football in May.
Not everyone is happy though. One fan association, Unsere Kurve, released a statement noting their displeasure.
So just how feasible are these plans to resume football in Germany? How likely is it that football will be being played in the Bundesliga in May?
We spoke with Bundesliga experts Ronan Murphy (social producer and football journalist at Goal.com), Derek Rae (football commentator and covers German football for Bundesliga Intl, Prime Video, NBC, ESPN and Fox), and Matt Ford (freelance journalist whose work regularly appears on DW Sports).
Derek Rae: It's so difficult to make a prediction because it changes every day, and again, the medical facts can often change the roadmap in terms of a decision.
Ronan Murphy: I think if you look at what Poland has done in the past weekend, and they have confirmed it their league is coming back, and South Korea has confirmed their league is coming back in May, I think the fact that both of them are trying to get back, they've had firm dates set for football, coming back, I think we will see it [Bundesliga] back.
Matt Ford: Personally, I think it is hard to avoid the feeling that the season will have to be played to an end. There are enough Bundesliga clubs and Bundesliga 2 clubs who are facing severe financial difficulties due to that over-reliance on the television money, which if it doesn't flow, could see insolvencies, which in turn leads not just to unemployment among a few footballers, but also -according to the league- 56,000 approximately.
Ronan Murphy: It might be a good thing for the German public as a whole, maybe to have the distraction of football. It's not as important as people's health obviously, but it might be a good thing to give people a bit of hope for the future.
Matt Ford: The initial date suggested by the league was of course the 9th of May, politicians in Germany are now saying that that's relatively unlikely. The most recent suggestions, perhaps the 23rd of May.
Derek Rae: My guess is, and I may very well be wrong on this, that we probably will have Bundesliga football back in May with no fans inside the venues, but my feeling is, it probably will be later in May rather than at the beginning.
Matt Ford: It seems to me to be a case of not if, just a question of when.