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Europe leagues UEFA

Remainder of Dutch Eredivisie season officially cancelled

Eredivisie will not resume 2019/20 season
European qualification granted on current league position

MIAMI, Fla. (25 April 2020) —

The Dutch Eredivisie has become the first major European football league to cancel its season in response to the coronavirus crisis. The cancellation marks the first time since 1944-45 that the Dutch top flight will not have a champion and there will be no relegation or promotion either from the 18-team division.

It seemed a foregone conclusion that the season would be abandoned after the Dutch government this week banned all sporting events until September 1.

The Dutch league, representatives from each club and the Dutch FA (Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond, or “KNVB”) met via teleconference on Friday to discuss the situation. In deciding to cancel the remainder of the season, they set a precedent that may be followed by other competitions in Europe, but has also generated controversy in the Netherlands.

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The Eredivisie said in a statement:

“Under these circumstances it is not appropriate to speak of a championship and there is no champion.”

“Because many rounds still have to be played in the competitions, we believe that we cannot apply promotion/relegation [either].”

As for spots in next season’s European competitions, places were granted to teams based on the league table as it stood, in accordance with new UEFA guidelines.

The league leaders Ajax Amsterdam have been granted a place in the final play-off round of the Champions League. Second-placed AZ Alkmaar will enter the second qualifying round of the same competition while Feyenoord Rotterdam, in third place, will enter the group stages of the Europa League. PSV Eindhoven (fourth) and Willem II Tilburg (fifth) will enter qualifying for the Europa League.

Some of the calls on European qualification are fractional. As you can see from the table, Ajax led AZ by goal difference with nine games to play, and Utrecht were three points behind Willem II with a game in hand and better goal difference. But the real controversy surrounds the suspension of promotion. This, mpre than the other decisions, highlights the challenges of ending a suspended competition fairly.

After a vote was split on determining the best way to resolve promotion and relegation, the KNVB was given authority to make a determining decision. It ruled against any movement between the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie below.

Cambuur, who had a four-point lead atop the Eerste Divisie standings, were denied a likely promotion to the Eredivisie. That decision did not sit well with manager Henk de Jong, whose side were also 11 points clear of third-place Volendam, with the top two Eerste Divisie clubs set to earn automatic promotion.

ADO Den Haag manager Alan Pardew (right) and his assistant coach, Chris Powell, will be relieved there is no relegation with their team currently in the bottom three.
 Cambuur manager Henk de Jong

De Jong, said the decision was “the biggest disgrace ever in Dutch sports”. He added: “What happened here is unworthy of sports.”

Eerste Divisie top half standings:


NEC Nijmegen (black, red, green) are one of the clubs affected by the decision against promotion for next season.
Mascots of Eredivisie sides AZ Alkmaar and ADO Den Haag. The latter escaped relegation after the Dutch season was cancelled due to the pandemic.

By Ken Russo

My work in the business of soccer applies skills acquired in law practice with a focus on the sport's commercial, communications and sporting components. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage in dialogue on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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