Uefa has announced a change to plans for the Champions League and Europa League group stage draws that were due to be held in Greece, with the ceremonies moved to Switzerland and placed behind closed doors due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
The delayed European seasons kick off properly from 20 October when the group stage for the 2020/21 campaign gets under way, with Uefa hopeful of fitting in a normal-sized Champions League format, albeit in a compressed format.
The tournament will begin a month later than normal due to last season not wrapping up until mid-August, but Uefa are confident that the group stage will be wrapped up by the second week of December before completing the knockout stages as usual once the January transfer window has concluded.
However, there will likely be a few hurdles to clear along the way, with coronavirus protocols and quarantine measures constantly changing across Europe, with sudden changes to government policy likely to cause a few head-scratching scenarios across football this season.
Where is the draw?
The first of those is where to hold the draw itself, with Athens originally slated to hold both the group stage draws for the Champions League and Europa League at the start of October. But with the coronavirus situation in Greece deteriorating and the country putting measures in place to restrict visitors from abroad, Uefa has elected to return to Switzerland, where the Swiss TV Studios in Geneva will stage the draws with no admittance to club representatives or the media.
A Uefa statement read: “Following a series of talks with the Greek authorities, Uefa today announced its decision to relocate the upcoming European Club Football Season Kick-Off from Athens, Greece, to Switzerland, on 1 and 2 October 2020.
“The event comprises the draws for the group stage of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions and Uefa Europa League, as well as the awards to the best players and coaches of the 2019/20 season.
“In spite of the globally acknowledged effective handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the Greek authorities, all parties agreed that the top priority must remain public health and that it currently would not be possible to organise an event of such size with guests in Athens, as it would violate public health restrictions and constraints regarding indoor events.
“The events - which will be broadcast across the globe - will take place behind closed doors (with no club representatives or media, but with awards winners).
When is the Champions League draw?
The draw for the group stage of the 2020/21 Champions League will take place on Thursday 1 October, and will be followed the next day by the draw for the Europa League group stage on Friday 2 October.
What time will it start?
The Champions League draw ceremony will begin at 4pm BST (5pm CET) on Friday 1 October, with the draw itself likely to start between 10 and 15 minutes into the ceremony and last no more than 15 minutes.
Who will be in the Champions League group stage draw?
Pot 1: Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto
Pot 2: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Ajax
Pot 3: Dynamo Kyiv, RB Leipzig, Inter Milan, Olympiacos, Lazio, Atalanta
Pot 3 or 4: Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille
Pot 4: Club Brugge, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Rennes, Ferencvaros
Who can still qualify?
Play-off round: Slavia Prague, Midtjylland, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Red Bull Salzburg, Krasnodar, PAOK.
Champions League dates
20/21 October: Matchday 1
27/28 October: Matchday 2
3/4 November: Matchday 3
24/25 November: Matchday 4
1/2 December: Matchday 5
8/9 December: Matchday 6
Round of 16
16/17/23/24 February: Round of 16 first legs
9/10/16/17 March: Round of 16 second legs
6/7 April: First legs
13/14 April: Second legs
27/28 April: First legs
4/5 May: Second legs
29 May: Champions League final