Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad formally request Copa final be delayed until fans can attend

Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Sociedad have formally requested the delay of the Copa del Rey final until their fans can attend, via a joint statement.

Both presidents have made the request to the Spanish FA, who are set to meet next in 8 May, clarifying their desire to postpone the encounter until a date suitable for fans of both clubs to attend.

This is the first Basque derby in the Copa showpiece, and the clubs have opted not to play the game until fans can safely attend football – which is likely to be a year away or more.

As outlined by El Mundo Deportivo, UEFA have declared that the remaining Europa League spot would go to seventh-place in La Liga should the Copa final not be played this season.

Valencia currently occupy seventh spot in the division and the position would go directly into the Europa League if the final is not staged – meaning that Athletic Club, as things stand, will miss out entirely.

“I prefer to play the Copa del Rey with fans than qualify for Europe,” Athletic midfielder Ibai Gomez told Cadena Cope’s El Partidazo show, as cited by Marca. “I prefer that option to playing the Europa League.”

The initial proposal from the Spanish authorities would be that Athletic Bilbao would go into the Europa League if the Copa del Rey final was not played, but now UEFA have said it must instead go to the final La Liga slot.

It is not yet clear what decision will be taken in terms of titles, promotions and relegations should the season not be completed – but the Spanish FA needed to communicate to UEFA what clubs would be entitled to perform in their competitions next season.

The intention of La Liga remains to complete the 2019/20 campaign.

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