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Saturday, 17 April 2021

Dutch soccer awaits decisions on cancelled season’s outcomes

Reuters , Wednesday 22 Apr 2020
Ajax players
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Round of 32 Second Leg - Ajax Amsterdam v Getafe - Johan Cruijff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands - February 27, 2020 Ajax's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar applauds fans after the match (Reuters)
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Professional soccer in the Netherlands is effectively over for the rest of the season but clubs must wait until Friday to find out if champions are to be declared and what will happen about promotion and relegation.

The government’s decision on Tuesday to extend a ban on public events until Sept. 1 in an effort to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 cases brought a premature close to the league campaign, which was suspended last month due to the pandemic.

Dutch clubs had been divided over whether to try and get the season back underway, as encouraged by UEFA, but that debate was ended when Prime minister Mark Rutte extended restrictions by three more months.

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) was quick to follow Rutte’s address with a statement effectively calling off the rest of the 2019-20 campaign, although they said they would be consulting with UEFA before final confirmation.

It set a meeting on Friday with all clubs and other stakeholders, including the players’ union, to discuss the way forward for the two professional divisions.

Ultimately the decisions will be made by two men – Eric Gudde and Jean-Paul Decossaux – who make up the FA’s professional football board, but with input from the clubs.

Defending champions Ajax Amsterdam were leading the league table but only on goal difference from surprise package AZ Alkmaar when the season was suspended in early March.

Ajax were in something of a slump when the league was stopped, having been hauled in by AZ, who have also beaten them home and away this season.

A decision on promotion and relegation is also anticipated. Cambuur Leeuwarden and De Graafschap had a healthy lead at the top of the second division while RKC Waalwijk were floundering at the bottom of the top flight.

Also to be discussed is the outcome of the Dutch Cup final between Feyenoord and Utrecht, which had been scheduled for April 19.

Clarity on how to determine who competes in next season's European club competitions is expected from UEFA on Thursday.

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