By Brian Homewood
BERN (Reuters) - European football will continue its cautious return to play following the COVID-19 stoppage over the next week as a number of the continent's smaller leagues restart with some novelties and one team in serious trouble for breaking coronavirus rules.
Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Austria, Croatia and Ukraine are among the countries which will again be able to enjoy league football, albeit in unusual circumstances with no spectators allowed at games.
The leagues, who have been exchanging information, will use similar health precautions which include regular testing of players, a limit of around 300 people allowed in the stadium and bans on pre-match handshakes, mascots and team photographs.
However, leagues are taking different approaches to the dilemma of livening up empty stadiums with Denmark so far the most creative.
The Superliga is due to restart on Thursday night with third-placed AGF Aarhus hosting Randers in front of a "virtual grandstand" of screens which will transmit images of watching fans via the digital platform Zoom.
Portugal, where there are 10 rounds of matches to play, will offer its fans a feast of summer football when it returns from June 3 with leaders Porto away to Famalicao and second-placed Benfica at home to Tondela the following day.
To televise as many games as possible, each round of matches will be played over four to six days with one rest day in between.
Some teams will not be able to play at home as the government's DGS health directorate has judged that their stadiums are not suitable for the strict health measures which have to be put in place.
The biggest setback so far has been in Austria where league leaders LSK Linz are facing a possible points deduction after they admitted to breaking coronavirus rules by prematurely resuming full training sessions.
Linz have a three-point lead and the eventual sanction, due to be announced in the next few days, could have a significant impact on whether they can deny second-placed Salzburg a seventh successive title.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)