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The current pandemic has caused the general suspension of all soccer competitions (whether professional, amateur or youth). This suspension and the eventual “resumption” or “cancellation” has prompted all affected parties to explore different alternatives both legally and from the point of view of sport fairness.

In professional soccer, the Monitoring Committee for the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation (“RFEF”) and the Spanish Professional Soccer League (“LNFP”), established under the current RFEF-LNFP Coordination Agreement, is working on a series of measures that affect the calendar and the tables of professional competitions in the 2019-2020 season. At this stage, the wish of the various parties involved (and of the supranational bodies managing soccer) is to end professional competitions as soon as possible (if the pandemic permits).

Regarding non-professional soccer, the RFEF has publicly announced a round of consultations with the chairs of the regional federations. The aim is to bring the 2019-2020 season to an end for non-professional competitions (Second Division B, Third Division, state-wide competitions in women’s soccer, indoor soccer and national youth categories) through a uniform model in all autonomous regions.

The RFEF’s proposal plans to end the regular season and adopt an express promotion mechanism using a single-match play-off system. This seeks to guarantee at least the same number of promotions as planned at the start of the competition (but with no relegations).

According to the RFEF, this would require specific mechanisms to increase the number of teams per group or the creation of new groups. The announcement indicates that this system would only be in place for the next three or four seasons at the most.

The RFEF, which had previously shown its opposition to finishing the season without having played all the scheduled matches, is now considering other alternatives—including the cancellation of competitions—in light of the current situation and to protect the health of non-professional players. After analyzing the legal consequences of an early end to the season, the RFEF has understood that the best way to protect the parties’ interests (including the national and regional federations), while ensuring legal certainty for all participants, is to reward (through promotion) and not to penalize (through relegation).

Now it only remains to see whether the RFEF adopts the measure—and if it sets a precedent for the first- and second-division professional competitions.

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