April 8 – Dutch football is drawing up a roadmap to resume the season that was suspended in March following the outbreak of the coronavirus with a return to action behind closed doors tentatively set for June 19.
The Dutch FA (KNVB) clubs and other stakeholders, including the players’ union, refereeing representatives, television rights holders and the supporters’ association, held a teleconference Tuesday to discuss the fate of the current season.
In line with UEFA’s guidelines, the KNVB is pushing for the season to be completed, but at least six clubs, including Ajax and PSV, have already stated a preference for the season to be cancelled.
“The health of all Dutch people is of the utmost importance, but we also bear a responsibility for the health of our industry,” said KNVB general director Eric Gudde. “It would be irresponsible to say now, well, we don’t feel like it anymore. We are trying to keep 34 clubs afloat. Making plans is really not just something that is restricted to football.”
Even so, those plans might run into problems early on. The Dutch government has imposed a lockdown until April 28 to combat the coronavirus pandemic, but does not want any mass gatherings until June 1. It remains to be seen when clubs will legally be allowed to resume training sessions.
Nine match days are still required to completion in the Dutch top flight, the Eredivisie. Previously, the KNVB had issued a statement saying it would follow UEFA’s direction to attempt to finish the season by August 3, but that play would need to resume in the second half of June at the latest. The governing body did not rule out that the season won’t be completed at all, stressing that no decision will be made without first getting permission from the authorities and public health agency RIVM.
Rights holder Fox Sports could withhold a quarter of the season’s TV rights money if the season is not completed.
Last week, Belgium became the first European country to opt cancel it season, crowning Club Brugge champions.
“Why would it be about money and not people’s well-being at this time? I had hoped that the KNVB would take an independent decision, but they are now hiding behind Uefa,” Ajax’s technical director Marc Overmars told Dutch daily De Telegraaf in an interview last week.
In the Netherlands, more than 2,000 people have died after contracting the coronavirus.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1590572911labto1590572911ofdlr1590572911owedi1590572911sni@o1590572911fni1590572911