Building work to dramatically revamp their Bernabeu home is reportedly a key driving force behind a plan by Real Madrid to play the rest of their matches this season at the 6,000-capacity Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium without crowds.
Senior figures and players at the club would prefer to complete the Liga season at the ground within their City of Madrid training complex, where their reserve team usually plays, because they feel it would be more practical and secure than using the Bernabeu, according to ESPN.
Supporters are not expected to be allowed to attend matches in Spain when the season resumes under health guidance surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, so Madrid could take advantage of the opportunity to resume work early on the major revamp of their 73-year-old home and avoid the bizarre prospect of playing behind closed doors at such a vast setting.
Planners had initially feared that the redesign, which includes a retractable roof and a 360-degree video screen, would be delayed by the pandemic, but it could stand to benefit should the club move its final six matches of the season to the complex on the outskirts of the city.
Construction workers have been allowed to return to work as the Spanish government tentatively relaxes the national lockdown implemented since the start of its outbreak, and Madrid’s training place could also be set to emerge from the quarantine it was placed under on March 12.
Known in Spain as Valdebebas, the complex was shut down when Trey Tompkins, a Madrid basketball player, tested positive for coronavirus, potentially endangering his teammates and the footballers with whom they share facilities.
The switch could also ensure that the Bernabeu can continue to be used by local hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients without disruption.
Madrid’s scheme will cost more than $600 million and could even add a hotel and shops to the Bernabeu under plans that will reduce the capacity of Spain’s second-largest stadium by one.
No date has yet been agreed for a return to group training sessions, although La Liga and the Spanish football federation are reported to have held talks on the conditions surrounding a potential turn to action.
Elite football has been suspended indefinitely since March 23 in Spain, where residents have been subject to strict restrictions aimed at reducing a death toll that has made it one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19.
Madrid are two points behind leaders Barcelona, who they beat 2-0 in their last match at the Bernabeu.