Curfew: pro football and rugby clubs will play behind closed doors at night

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A lesser evil. The curfew announced this Wednesday evening by President Emmanuel Macron for Ile-de-France and eight other metropolises in the country, to stem the health degradation, should not have an immediate impact on the course of the championships football and rugby professionals. They will indeed benefit from a special exemption to play and finish after 9 p.m. “There will be a possibility of exemption, with or without an audience depending on the time of day,” said the Ministry of Sports.

The meetings scheduled in the calendar are therefore for the moment all maintained at the scheduled times. This season, due to the different TV broadcasters, three Ligue 1 matches per day are played at 9 p.m. The only constraint for clubs located in the maximum alert zone (PSG, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne) is to have to play behind closed doors for nightly matches.

During the day, they will be forced to respect the gauges already established by the health authorities. The first match to experiment with these measures will be the expected OM-Bordeaux on Saturday evening (9 p.m.). Same situation for the opening match of the Champions League between PSG and Manchester United, scheduled for Tuesday at 9 pm, which will be played in an empty Parc des Princes, against 1,000 spectators initially planned.

An atmosphere that will recall that of the qualification of the Parisians against Dortmund in the round of 16 of the event last season. In Ligue 2, where most matches start at 7 p.m., closed doors will be the norm for the home matches of the clubs concerned such as Paris FC or Toulouse.

“I hope we can arrange the match schedules”

Same scenario for the Top 14 rugby championship. The Rugby League must discuss with the broadcasters to possibly schedule the matches at another time.

But if the television rights to football and rugby guarantee income for clubs even without an audience, the situation is different for the handball, basketball or volleyball championships. For the latter, playing games behind closed doors is economically catastrophic.

The clubs and the bodies concerned had also noted that they would stop the championship if the closed session was imposed on them. “It’s a new blow, I hope that we can adjust the schedules of the matches to allow us to welcome the public, reacts Frédéric Donnadieu, general manager of the Nanterre basketball club (Jeep Elite). In the European Cup we will probably not be able to adapt but I hope that the (basketball) League will allow us to have more flexibility. You can imagine playing on Saturdays or Sundays at 5 or 6 p.m. to allow people to go home with the start of the curfew. Performing in front of an audience is vital for us. “

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