05.08.2020 00:26 h

Spain's COVID-hit second-tier decider back on

The Spanish second division game that was first postponed, then cancelled, because of a coronavirus outbreak at one of the teams is back on again, although it has already been rescheduled.

Deportivo La Coruna will host Fuenlabrada in the last game of the Liga 2 regular season on Friday.

The game was originally scheduled for July 20 but was postponed shortly before kick-off after members of Fuenlabrada's travelling party tested positive for COVID-19. The club had travelled to northwest Spain even though some staff and players, who remained in Madrid, had already tested positive.

A draw would have put Fuenlabrada in the promotion playoffs and the game was originally rescheduled. But when the number of positive tests among Fuenlabrada players and staff, both back in Madrid and at the hotel in La Coruna where the travelling squad had gone into quarantine, the match was cancelled.

On Monday, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) previously announced the game was back on and would be played on Wednesday. On Tuesday, La Liga said the game would be played on Friday evening.

Results elsewhere in the final round mean that Deportivo cannot escape relegation to the third tier on the field, but they will have to play more than two weeks after their already extended season should have ended to help determine whether Fuenlabrada or Elche claim the final playoff berth.

Zaragoza awaits the qualifier in a two-leg semi-final on dates still to be decided. The winner will meet Almeria or Girona, who have already played the first leg of their semi-final, for a place in La Liga.

The delay means Zaragoza will be without their star player Luis Suarez, whose loan from Watford has ended.

The chaos has given hope to both Deportivo and Espanyol, who finished bottom of La Liga.

A Spanish radio station broadcast a message from Deportivo's captain, Alex Bergantinos to his teammates who said he had talked to the club's directors and the way "to save the club from relegation would be to continue a legal procedure against Fuenlabrada and to relegate them administratively for what they did".

He said Depor hoped to make a case against Fuenlabrada for "hiding" their cases of coronavirus and "serious conduct" when travelling to La Coruna with several players already infected.

Bergantinos said Depor should field a team just strong enough to avoid being punished themselves.

Earlier on Tuesday, Espanyol called for relegation to be scrapped.

"Taking into account all the conditions that have occurred since the return to competition and in light of the events that have occurred in recent days...Espanyol argues for the elimination of relegations this season," said the Barcelona club