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Football roundup: UEFA sets out Champions League comeback plans; LiveScore grabs Serie A and Primeira Liga rights; La Liga sees solid return

European football governing body UEFA has announced plans for the return of the continent’s top club football competition the Champions League.

With leagues around Europe either scrambling to finish their seasons – eg. Germany and England – or being curtailed altogether – such as France and the Netherlands – the status of the Champions League and Europa League had largely flown under the radar.

Now with most leagues starting to resume, UEFA has said that the top-tier Champions League will be played out as an eight-team tournament in Lisbon between August 12-23, with the four remaining last 16 second leg matches to take place on August 7-8.

The Europa League will take place in a similar format across four stadiums in Germany between August 10-21.

The remaining matches in the Women’s Champions League will be played as a knockout tournament in Bilbao and San Sebastian between August 21-30.

In addition, the body said that the delayed Euro 2020 will start on June 11 2021 with all 12 original host cities to stage matches.

Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA president, said: “I am delighted that we are able to resume almost all of our competitions. I am confident that we will not have to endure the fans’ absence for long and that they will be allowed into stadiums sooner rather than later.

“UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone Euro 2020. But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion.

“While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days.”

LiveScore enters OTT fray

Sports event tracker LiveScore has entered into an agreement with broadcaster Premier Sports to show the remainder of Italy’s Serie A and Portugal’s Primeira Liga seasons.

This marks the first time that LiveScore, which is best known for providing users with real-time scores and results, will stream games. It has a global audience of 56 million.

Both leagues will be available to watch for free on the LiveScore iOS and Android apps.

LiveScore marketing director Ric Leask said: “This is a hugely important step for LiveScore, as we continue to innovate and offer our audience the most immersive sports coverage possible.

“Serie A and Primeira Liga are two of the most popular and keenly followed European leagues amongst our two million monthly users within the UK and Ireland, so this is a fantastic opportunity to give something back to our loyal userbase. After a long wait for top-level football to return, this is a brilliant start for our new live streaming service.”

La Liga sees positive comeback

Spain’s top flight football league returned earlier this month and has seen improved viewing figures, La Liga has said.

A collective 4.5 million domestic TV viewers watched the first round of La Liga matches since the enforced break, with Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Eibar attracting the largest individual audience of 851,607.

The other most watched matches of the round were Mallorca’s fruitless visit to league leaders Barcelona (780,231) and the Serville derby (755,810).

Overall, total viewership increased by more than 12% when compared to the reverse fixtures earlier this month.

This positive trend was only amplified internationally, with viewing figures increasing by more than 48% for the first matchday back.

Citing figures from Nielsen Sports, Africa was the most prominent region in this regard with a rise of over 73%. South Africa in particular saw a 210% increase in viewers. India has also increased its consumption of the league by 73% thanks to it being freely available to stream on Facebook.

Europe saw viewer growth of over 56%, with countries such as Belgium (over 130%) and Denmark (over 46%) tuning in significantly more than previously.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: “At Liga we feel privileged to be able to take to the field again and we’re very happy to have the opportunity to offer live sports entertainment at a time when there are few events like this around the world. We hope that other competitions in other regions will also start soon, because it’s important for the fans and the industry.”

Oscar Mayo, LaLiga’s director of business, marketing and international development, said: “We’re very pleased with the exponential growth in the figures for LaLiga’s international audience. We knew that fans around the world were keen to enjoy the excitement and entertainment we offer. Achieving a rise of almost 50% in our international audience is a reflection of the hard work put in by our international broadcasters, the clubs and the competition itself over these last few months.”