Super Eagles defender Jamilu Collins and new national team invitee Kingsley Ehizibue are set to be back in action for their respective club sides after the German Bundesliga became the first major European league to set a definite resumption date amid the coronavirus pandemic.
All 36 clubs in the top two divisions in Germany including Collins’ Paderborn and Ehizibue’s Koln decided on a May 9 restart following a video meeting on Thursday.
Matches will take place behind closed doors with a maximum of 322 people allowed in and around stadiums for top-flight Bundesliga matches and 270 for second-tier games.
The maximum of 322 people in and around stadiums on matchdays includes players, coaches, referees, journalists, cameramen, doping control officers, stewards, groundsmen and ball boys.
They will be divided into three defined zones – 98 will be allowed inside the stadium, 115 in the stands and 109 outside the stadium.
Teams will arrive at the stadium separately and rituals such as pre-match handshakes and team photographs will be abandoned. There will be no player mascots.
Protective masks will be mandatory for medical personnel, pitchside sinks will be required for hygiene reasons and those involved in television production, while press conferences will be conducted virtually.
The final decision on whether the planned resumption will be put into practice will rest, however, with the German Government and state health authorities.
The move to allow players back onto the pitch is being treated with caution and Seifert stressed that hygiene precautions would have to be observed.
The players must be tested regularly and hygiene officers would be appointed to each team to ensure the guidelines are followed.
The German football league (DFL) has estimated that 25,000 coronavirus tests at around £90 each will be needed to check each player on at least a weekly basis at an estimated cost of £2.2million.
DFL CEO Christian Seifert said: ‘The Bundesliga is ready to resume, no matter whether on May 9 or a later date. But it’s not up to us to find a date. The political decision makers decide.
‘We have not defined an exact date today. The fact that we are even able to think about resuming games underlines the performance of the German authorities.
‘It would be presumptuous for the DFL to name an exact date for the restart.
‘It’s not in our hands if we return or when. We have several options. If the signal comes in the next week that it can be May 9, then it will be May 9.’
The next federal government conference, which could give the green light for the plans, is scheduled for 30 April.
On the issue of testing, Seifert added: ‘Professional football would not even consume 0.4 percent of the available test capacity in the country.’
He said there had been 14 positive Covid-19 cases among 1,100 licensed players and all had recovered.
The season in Germany was halted on 13 March with the last fixture, between Borussia Monchengladbach and Ehizibue’s Koln, played back on 11 March.
Collins’ Paderborn were six points from safety propping the Bundesliga table with 16 points from 25 matches while Ehizebue’s Koln were in 10th place with 32 points prior to the suspension of the league.
It is planned that the league season will finish by 30 June, which would free up around 300 million euros ($323 million) in television money, an essential boost for several cash-strapped clubs.
There is also debate about whether the squads should be quarantined in separate hotels to further reduce the risk.
Bayern Munich forward Thomas Mueller says the clubs must follow the rules in order to complete the season.
“As long as the rules (for the restart) are compatible with the laws and regulations, we will play, even if we have to be in quarantine,” Mueller told Sport Bild magazine.
“It is quite clear that football would follow the rules.”
Bayern were four points clear at the top of the table when the season was put on hold in March.
The majority of Bundesliga sides have nine matches of the season to complete and the aim is to finish these during May and June.
A draft timetable would see matchday 26 of the season played over the weekend of May 9-10 with the 34th and final matchday on June 27-28.
Two midweek matchdays have been scheduled in June to ensure all the remaining games can be fitted in.
There is also space in May to fit in the semi-finals of the German Cup, which will see Bayern Munich play Eintracht Frankfurt and fourth-tier Saarbrucken play Bayer Leverkusen.