Paris (AFP) – Qualification for the next Champions League should be “on sporting merit” if domestic leagues cannot be completed but countries should “explore all possible options” to finish seasons suspended because of the coronavirus crisis, UEFA said on Thursday.

“If a domestic competition is prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons…UEFA would require (leagues) to select clubs for the UEFA club competitions 2020/21 based on sporting merit” in the current season, European football’s governing body said after a meeting of its Executive Committee.

That means that, while it remains hopeful that suspended seasons can still somehow be completed, UEFA is now willing to consider “legitimate reasons” to terminate leagues now, with current standings considered final and used as a basis for teams to qualify for the next Champions League and Europa League.

The announcement comes with several countries looking to bring an early end to their football seasons because of the complications of lockdowns imposed due to the health situation.

Earlier this week the Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced its intention to call an end to the season following the government’s decision to extend a ban on large gatherings until September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belgian Pro League is set to decide next week that it will end its season, thereby declaring Club Brugge champions. The Scottish league could do the same.

In contrast, the German Bundesliga is hoping to restart early next month.