We can play without referees if there is no relegation - Ahly’s coach

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 6 Apr 2011

Ahly coach Manuel Jose mocks the Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) deliberation over whether to cancel league relegation this season

Manuel Jose

Ahly coach Manuel Jose spoke sarcastically on Wednesday saying that Egyptian clubs could play without referees in the Premier League, if the EFA decided to cancel relegation this season.

The EFA announced on Tuesday that the league would be resumed, despite security concerns following last weekend’s pitch invasion, which forced the cancellation of an African Champions League clash between Zamalek and Tunisia’s Club Africain.

But the EFA said it was considering abolishing relegation, given that the lower divisions will not be resuming play like the Premier League.

The three bottom teams in the Premier League are relegated to the second division to make way for three other teams from the lower division.

“I hope the EFA officials will not cancel relegation because such a decision will open the door for favours. The league will also lose its competitiveness, it will be a disaster,” Ahly’s Portuguese coach Jose told reporters.

“The league will go from a strong competition to a league of beach football, where all teams look for entertainment without winners or any sort of competition.

“If there is no relegation, we can also play the matches without referees!”, he scoffed.

Ahly’s arch-rivals Zamalek and coastal club Ismaily also objected to the notion of cancelling relegation but, naturally the likes of Gouna and Alexandria-based club Ittihad, who are both mired in the danger zone, supported the idea.

EFA chairman Samir Zaher is set to meet with National Sports Council president Hassan Saqr on Thursday to make the final decision over the controversial matter.

The league is scheduled to resume on 13 April after more than two months of obligatory stoppage following the popular Egyptian uprising, which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

“I’m happy with the resumption of the league. It is important to restart because the income of many people depends on football,” Jose, who returned to Ahly in January to lead the Egyptian champions for a third spell following two hugely-successful stints, added.

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