Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Dutch latest to call for end to football season

Carel Eiting of Ajax Amsterdam celebrating his goal in a Europa League match against Getafe at the Johan Cruyff Arena in February. The Dutch football federation is proposing the cancellation of the rest of the domestic season, with Ajax leading AZ Al
Carel Eiting of Ajax Amsterdam celebrating his goal in a Europa League match against Getafe at the Johan Cruyff Arena in February. The Dutch football federation is proposing the cancellation of the rest of the domestic season, with Ajax leading AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie on goal difference.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AMSTERDAM • The Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced on Tuesday its intention to call an end to the season, subject to discussions with Uefa, following the government's decision to extend a ban on large gatherings until September owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The KNVB has not yet definitively cancelled competitions because of financial difficulties in the football industry due to the coronavirus crisis," it added.

Clubs and other stakeholders will meet tomorrow to discuss the consequences of the decision.

There are eight rounds of matches left in the Eredivisie, with defending champions Ajax (56 points) ahead of AZ Alkmaar on goal difference. The Dutch Cup final was scheduled for last Sunday.

According to the KNVB, matches behind closed doors will not be possible as they are considered events which require a permit and police presence.

"There will be no matches before September 1," the statement added.

The Dutch top flight and second division have been suspended since March 12.

Earlier on Tuesday, European football's governing body Uefa made "a strong recommendation" to finish domestic competitions after holding a video conference with its 55 member associations. But it added that "some special cases will be heard once guidelines concerning participation to European competitions - in case of a cancelled league - have been developed".

Any decisions would be announced after its executive committee meets today, by which time it would have met with the powerful European Club Association and the European Leagues grouping, which represents nearly a thousand clubs in 29 countries.

Belgium and Scotland also appear to be awaiting a green light from Uefa to call an end to their seasons.

Earlier this month, the Belgian league become the first major European competition to recommend ending its season with the current standings declared final because of the virus outbreak.

The Belgian Pro League has just one round of play left before the start of the play-offs, with leaders Club Brugge 15 points clear of Gent at the top of the table.

Uefa initially responded to that move by threatening that teams may be excluded from the Champions League or Europa League if domestic leagues are ended prematurely.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2020, with the headline 'Dutch latest to call for end to football season'. Subscribe