Bern              -         European football will continue its cautious return to play following the COVID-19 stoppage over the next week as a number of the continent’s smaller leagues restart with some novelties and one team in serious trouble for breaking coronavirus rules.

Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Austria, Croatia and Ukraine are among the countries which will again be able to enjoy league football, albeit in unusual circumstances with no spectators allowed at games. They join Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia and the Faroe Islands where play has already restarted. So far, Germany’s Bundesliga is the only one of the big five leagues to have resumed.

The leagues, who have been exchanging information, will use similar health precautions which include regular testing of players, a limit of around 300 people allowed in the stadium and bans on pre-match handshakes, mascots and team photographs. However, leagues are taking different approaches to the dilemma of livening up empty stadiums with Denmark so far the most creative.

Leaders Midtjylland, who host Horsens on Monday, will set up a drive-in cinema with space for 2,000 cars outside their MCH Arena. Portugal, where there are 10 rounds of matches to play, will offer its fans a feast of summer football when it returns from June 3 with leaders Porto away to Famalicao and second-placed Benfica at home to Tondela the following day.