Reliable sources indicate that Olhanense players will commence training in about two weeks’ time, with the Campeonato de Portugal play-offs being staged behind closed doors in June. Further guidelines are expected to be announced on Thursday, April 30 with details of the completion of the Primeira Liga and Segunda Liga fixtures.
English Premier League clubs expect to start training in a couple of weeks’ time, with matches scheduled to recommence on June 8 which could cause problems for those returning from abroad who will have to self-isolate in the UK for 14 days.
At least four Premier League managers and a dozen players could be affected, including Portuguese players Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) and Wolves manager Nuno Espírito Santo, plus several of his squad.
One player happy to have remained in the Algarve is Olhanense’s wing-back Zac Muscat, who has been keeping fit by using the José Arcanjo Stadium. The Malta international, when asked what he missed most about the lockdown, said: “Travel, especially the short breaks I have spent with my father in London, when we would watch a Premier League game and enjoy the best city in the world. In early February, my dad flew from Malta to London where I joined him, and we watched Spurs beat Manchester City 2-0.”
Muscat also said that he had been looking forward to Malta playing Portugal in Lisbon this June, but his main wish was that all the Olhanense fans and their families stayed fit and healthy.
UEFA has released €236.5 million to help its 55 member associations meet the challenges of Covid-19 in their respective countries. This HatTrick funding is usually distributed to the national associations to cover running costs and to help develop specific and targeted areas of domestic football. However, UEFA has decided to allow each association to set its own priorities in light of the negative impact of the coronavirus on football at all levels.
The Portuguese Football Association will, therefore, receive approximately €4.3 million.
UEFA has confirmed national leagues will not be banned from European competition if they cancel their seasons and must decide for themselves how to determine final placings “based on sporting merit”.
UEFA says it reserves the right to refuse nations or clubs to compete in the Champions League and Europa League if these criteria have not been met. It stipulates a further reason for termination that may be acceptable; namely if it has been done on “the basis of any other legitimate public health reasons”. This final clause will be interpreted by some as leaving open the possibility for even the biggest leagues to stop their seasons should the pandemic not allow a safe resumption of competition.
Muted celebrations at Olhanense
SC Olhanense marked its 108th birthday last Monday, April 27, when a small group of club officials and friends watched as the club’s flag was hoisted aloft. Club president Isidoro Sousa remarked on how the club had become a stronger entity after the Spanish Flu pandemic over 100 years ago and he is confident the Olhanense family will pull together to come out stronger after the current crisis.
He went on to praise EAWF and the Expat Supporters Group who had become an integral part of the Olhanense family.
By CHRIS WRIGHT