KNVB to notify UEFA of plans to abandon football season

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The Dutch FA is to tell European football’s governing body UEFA that it plans to abandon the football season in the wake of the government’s decision to ban all public and sporting events until September 1.

The KNVB said the extension of the ban, announced by prime minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday evening, was ‘inevitable’, but it needs UEFA’s approval before it can finish the season early.

Eredivisie clubs including Ajax and Vitesse Arnhem have expressed support for the cabinet’s decision. One consolation is that training sessions can resume once sports clubs have adapted their facilities to comply with the 1.5 metre social distancing rules.

‘The fact that licensed events will remain prohibited until September 1 gives us clarity,’ the KNVB said in a statement.

‘As a result of this the professional football authorities have proposed not to resume the 2019/2020 competition. On the basis of the government’s decision the KNVB will consult with UEFA, after which the decision will be made. On Friday the clubs and others concerned will meet to discuss the consequences.’

Ajax said in a statement on the club’s website that the decision to scrap the season was regrettable but ‘in the interests of the nation’s health’. PSV Eindhoven’s managing director Toon Gerbrants said: ‘At PSV there is unanimous support for the interests of the nation’s health.’

Vitesse Arnhem’s managing director Pascal van Wijk welcomed the ‘clarity’ behind the decision, but added: ‘The fact that no matches will be played until September 1 doesn’t answer all the questions. What will the individual schedules for our players look like? What does this decision mean for the start of the new season? We need to consider these kinds of questions with the relevant parties in the coming weeks.’

European places

The KNVB will have to decide whether to award the Eredivisie title to Ajax, who currently head the table on goal difference ahead of AZ Alkmaar, or simply abandon the season. Promotion and relegation issues will also have to be decided, although the governing body has previously indicated it would expand the league to 20 clubs for one season.

European places are likely to be awarded on the basis of current league standings, with Ajax going into the group stages of the Champions League and AZ playing in the qualifying rounds. The Europa League spots would be filled by Feyenoord, PSV and Willem II Tilburg.

UEFA has put domestic leagues under pressure to conclude their seasons and made special arrangements such as allowing players’ contracts to be extended beyond June 30. The Bundesliga in Germany is due to recommence on May 9, with the aim of concluding the season by the end of June.

However, in the last week the European governing body has softened its stance and said it will take into account ‘situations’ that make it impossible to complete the league season.

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