The Dutch football association KNVB has agreed to change the league structure in the Netherlands to make it easier for amateur clubs to join the first division.
From the 2016/17 season, a new national league will form a bridge between the amateur game and the first division. The Netherlands has two professional leagues: the Eredivise or premier league and the first division.
The change means that from the 2016 season, clubs from the first division can be relegated to amateur status and amateur clubs can join the professional league.
The new league will be made up of four reserve teams from professional clubs plus the seven top teams from the Saturday and Sunday amateur competitions. Three second teams (Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord) currently play in the first division. The other reserve teams currently have their own competition.
Not everyone is happy with the new set-up. ‘Soon we will have lads of 17 playing against men in their 30s. That’s daft,’ Ad Westerhof, chairman of Amsterdam amateur side AFC, said in the Volkskrant.
In addition, the amateur clubs in the new national division will have to offer four players a 12-hour contract. The aim of this is to ‘eradicate weird constructions and create more transparency’, the KNVB’s head of professional football Bert van Oostveen said.
Westerhof says the amateur clubs don’t have the funds to do this. ‘If I offer four players contracts of 12 hours a week, I will have to feed the rest on chicken nuggets after the game,’ he said.
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