This article originally published on April 18 has been updated.
This time of year is usually the most exciting for football supporters as club seasons approach their climax, with league titles up for grabs and promotion and relegation battles to be fought out.
Instead, stadiums lie empty and players and fans alike are confined to their homes amid coronavirus lockdowns, leaving end-of-season tussles in suspense.
But as governments consider easing restrictions on movement in the coming weeks, football authorities are considering ways to revive and save their seasons.
Pressure is also building from football’s European governing body, UEFA, who require a conclusove end to the season for next seasons European competitions.
UEFA’s guidelines for club competitions say that qualification to the Champions League and Europa League is “always based on sporting merit“.
Clubs have therefore been urged to “explore all possible options” to finish domestic seasons and use “a different format” if needed.
Earlier this month UEFA had also indefinitely suspended the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020 qualifying playoffs.
Here is a look at how things stand in the main European leagues and when football may resume.
The English Premier League held a two-hour meeting on April 17, with discussions including the question of how to complete the 92 remaining fixtures.
But although clubs remain committed to finishing the 2019-20 season, a previously-raised potential deadline of June 30 was reportedly not debated.
The meeting came one day after the British government announced a three-week extension to the coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month the Premier League said it would not resume the season until it was “safe and appropriate to do so”.
Individually, teams have either nine or 10 matches left to play. Liverpool — aiming for the club’s first league title for 30 years — are top of the table with a commanding 25-point lead over Manchester City.
Football in Spain has been suspended for over a month and with the country still in lockdown, it is unclear when the season can resume.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has said it plans to award next season’s European places according to teams’ current league positions, if La Liga cannot be completed.
That means current league leaders Barcelona would qualify for the Champions League, with the teams now in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places: Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad. The next placed teams, including Atletico Madrid, would qualify for the Europa League.
The proposal has reportedly not been well received by La Liga. It remains hopeful that the season can be restarted, and last week its president said three possible dates were being considered, between late May and late June.
Germany’s Bundesliga is ready to resume on 9 May, if the German authorities give the go-ahead.
League (DFL) President Christian Seifert made the announcement on April 23, making the Bundesliga the first major European league to agree to a resumption schedule.
All leagues have been at a standstill since mid-March.
But discussions have been taking place on whether more so-called “ghost matches” can take place, behind closed doors. Bundesliga clubs have resumed training with players in small groups.
German fans groups have criticised the move, a joint statement saying “ghost games are no solution”, and that to restart the season in current circumstances would be “a mockery of the rest of society”.
Italy’s sports minister has said he hopes to confirm that clubs can resume training on May 4. National lockdown restrictions in the country have been extended until the previous day.
Serie A was suspended indefinitely in March after some matches took place behind closed doors.
The Italian Football Association (FIGC) has said the season will not resume until health and safety for all concerned can be guaranteed.
But its president reportedly remains hopeful that remaining matches can be completed. There are plans to test players for COVID-19 before training resumes.
Juventus are the current league leaders, one point ahead of Lazio.
In France, football authorities are considering a plan for the rest of the Ligue 1 season to be played between mid-June and late July, with play-offs being finished by early August. Paris Saint-Germain are the runaway league leaders with a 22-point margin.
The Professional Football League (LFP) has raised June 17 as a potential start date, while the French Football Federation (FFF) says it hopes to announce a date for both men’s and women’s cup finals soon.
All amateur and youth football has been abandoned for the season, however.
The national lockdown has been extended until May 11.
REST OF EUROPE
The Belgian Pro League became the first major European league to be cancelled because of coronavirus on 15 April.
Club Brugge, currently 15 points ahead of KAA Gent, would therefore be declared champions.
There was one match of the regular season remaining when the league was suspended, with relegation and play-off decisions still contestable.
A statement from the Pro League board of directors said that it was “not desirable” to try and resume the competition after June 30, due to health concerns.
The Board of Directors have convened a general meeting for April 25 for further discussions.
In a similar vein, the Dutch Football Association “intends not to continue” the season after the national government extended a ban on major events until 1 September.
Ajax and AZ Alkmaar are currently leading the Eredivisie level on points after 26 games, with Ajax ahead on just goal difference.
Clubs training schedules have also been suspended in Scotland until further notice and at least until June 10.
But in Portugal, after a meeting with the country’s defence association, Primera Liga officials underlined “the reasons for the importance of concluding the sporting season”.
UEFA have acknowledged that domestic league seasons across Europe may not be finished for “legitimate reasons”, and say national associations would need to select clubs to qualify for Europe in 2020-21.
But UEFA have stated that could “refuse or evaluate” selected teams if necessary.