It feels like ages ago that the last Premier League match was contested, even though it was just over a month ago. Since then, the football community has had a lot of questions with very few answers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, we may have seen the first step toward dealing with the fallout from the pandemic and just how tough it’s going to be to handle the decisions. The Eredivisie announced today that their 2019-20 league has been declared null and void. Sky Sports has a write up here, but this was an official communique from the league itself.
Persbericht @KNVB: Afwikkeling voetbalseizoen een feit.— Eredivisie (@eredivisie) April 24, 2020
⚽️ Europese tickets naar top 5
Geen promotie / degradatie
Lees meer: https://t.co/5W65dwqhpK#eredivisie #onsvoetbal pic.twitter.com/5scKdMFTO9
The Dutch Eredivisie season has been ended with immediate effect, meaning league leaders Ajax have been denied the title.
There will also be no promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie or relegation from the top flight, following an agreement reached over a video conference call between the Dutch FA (KNVB) and clubs.
There’s a bit to unwrap here, so let’s start with the obvious: The Eredivisie had one of the toughest decisions to make across all of Europe because AFC Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were level on points. Ajax held the goal differential advantage with nine matches to play. It’s a far cry from what the EPL has to deal with, given that Liverpool are 25 points clear of Manchester City and could potentially lock up a league title with their next match.
KNVB released as statement regarding their decision:
“Unfortunately, with the cabinet’s most recent corona measures, it has become impossible to complete the 2019/2020 season of professional football competitions in time - it will be crystal clear to everyone involved, from supporters and players to directors and referees, that public health always comes first.
“The professional football board, after consulting clubs, players and coaches, and with the approval of the Supervisory Board, has decided to stop the 2019/20 competition and to allow the allocation of European club football seats based on the current league table.
“This is in accordance with UEFA guidelines. In relation to promotion and demotion, it has been decided not to promote and not to be demoted.”
So how does this effect the Premier League, as well as other leagues in Europe? For starters, precedent has been set now. While it seems like months ago, UEFA released a statement on April 5 stating that any league that did not complete their league could face sanctions that would include dismissal from UCL/UEL play in 2020-21. The problem with UEFA’s statement is that it won’t hold water if every league decides to forego the end of the current campaign.
The Eredivisie may not be one of the biggest fish in the European pond, so to speak, but this isn’t nothing. It’s giving a blueprint for other leagues to consider, though I could easily see the EPL handing Liverpool the title and declaring the season finished based on current standings. The bigger problem that faces the Premier League is the issue of TV money and what would be required to be returned since the season had nine matches to go.
Most of the leagues in Europe have been dealing with this problem since the beginning of March when the pandemic truly became global. It’s going to be difficult to find a way that 100% makes sense because I don’t think that exists. What might make sense for one league will not work for another. England could go the route of the Eredivisie and declare no champion which might cause Liverpool fans to set all of Merseyside on fire as a response.
The EPL is expected to meet again next week to discuss more options. Nothing appears to be ruled out yet officially, but we can expect the Eredivisie’s decision to come up in that meeting.