German clubs ratify play suspension until at least April 30: DFL

Video Assist Centre of the DFL in Cologne

BERLIN (Reuters) - German clubs from the top two divisions on Tuesday ratified a proposal to extend the suspension of matches until at least April 30 amid the coronavirus outbreak but still plan to finish the season by June 30, the German Football League (DFL) said.

The DFL had last week proposed the extension from April 2 with the country still in lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

DFL CEO Christian Seifert said team training could not resume before April 5 but the league still planned to complete the season by end of June.

"We cannot even discuss anything earlier than April 30," Seifert told a news conference with reporters phoning in. "It would be completely inappropriate. Germany has other things to deal with at the moment."

More than 67,000 people have been infected in Germany and more than 680 have died as the virus sweeps across the continent.

"Nothing changed in our plan to finish the season by June 30," Seifert said in a news conference, adding though that given the fluidity of the situation it was not possible to come up with one specific plan at the moment.

"It could be possible to extend it to July but it is also clear that a new season has to start at some point. We have to know who is relegated, who is promoted, who will play in Europe."

Seifert said there would also be a set of medical guidelines for clubs if and when games without spectators would be allowed to go ahead to safeguard athletes and club officials.

Last week Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen came together to create a 20 million euros ($21.93 million) solidarity fund to help clubs in the top two tiers stave off a potential financial crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seifert said the 36 first and second division clubs had also agreed on financial measures, allowing them to deal with any liquidity issues, and in the current season the DFL would not deduct points for any insolvency procedures. Normally nine points are deducted in such cases.

For the 2020-21 season only three points will be deducted from clubs filing for insolvency. Also clubs will not undergo the usual liquidity checks to obtain a licence for next season.

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday it was crucial for the season to be completed as clubs look to minimise the financial damage.

"It is imperative that we play the season out," Rummenigge said. "Both for reasons of sporting fairness but obviously also to keep the financial damage as low as possible."

($1 = 0.9122 euros)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)