Bratislava, Slovakia – Since March, the football season has more or less been on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic all across the Europe. But while the Czech, Polish and Hungarian leagues have all resumed, Slovak football, which was still on hold, will finally kick off again over the weekend.
But instead of the originally planned 10 rounds of matches, clubs will play only five, providing the situation in the country allows it, and no team will be directly relegated at the end of the season. The last team will instead face the winner of the second division in the relegation play-offs.
The first fixtures will see last year’s champions Slovan Bratislava and DAC Dunajská Streda respectively host Ružomberok and Zemplín Michalovce on Saturday. All players will have to undergo testing for Covid-19 and the games will be played behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, after Hungary became the first European country to allow football clubs to reopen their stadiums to fans last week, Poland announced it will also start allowing fans back into the stadiums from June 19, albeit at a limit of 25 per cent capacity.
Elsewhere in Europe, while the German Bundesliga was the first to resume on May 16, the Spanish Liga will restart on June 11, the English Premier League on June 17 and the Italian Serie A on June 20. Out of the “Big Five” European leagues, only France decided to bring a premature end to the season in late April with 10 rounds of matches remaining.
Football fans, which have been deprived of almost any excitement over the past three months, will be particularly looking forward to Manchester City home agame against Arsenal, initially postponed due to the Carabao Cup final, which will now take place on June 17. Based on Manchester City’s home matches before the pause, it appears that some betting sites listed here are giving travelling teams a boost in empty stadiums. City is less than a 1/3 home favourite against Arsenal. When they played at Etihad last February, City was much closer to 1/4 at most sites.