Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Anger swells at Dutch decision to end football season

Published:Sunday | April 26, 2020 | 12:19 AM
Ajax’s head coach Erik ten Hag shouts directions to his team during a round of 32, second-leg Europa League match against Getafe on February 27 at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Ajax’s head coach Erik ten Hag shouts directions to his team during a round of 32, second-leg Europa League match against Getafe on February 27 at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

AMSTERDAM (AP):

Dutch top-flight club FC Utrecht is preparing for legal action to fight the Royal Netherlands Football Association decision to cancel the remainder of the league season and allocate places in next season’s European competitions based on the standings when play was halted by the coronavirus crisis.

Utrecht likely will not be alone in challenging the decision that also said there would be no relegation and promotion between the country’s two top leagues.

The Netherlands was the first top-tier European league to cancel the remainder of the season. Neighbouring Belgium could also end its season at a meeting tomorrow.

Cambuur Leeuwarden, leaders of the second-tier Keuken Kampioen division, are furious that they were denied promotion.

“I can’t understand it,” said the club’s director, Ard de Graaf. “It feels very unjust.” He said the club was considering its position.

ENLISTING LAWYERS

Utrecht owner Frans van Seumeren told local broadcaster RTV Utrecht on Friday night that his club will “use all the lawyers we can” in a bid to overturn the decision.

When the season was cancelled, Utrecht were sixth in the Eredivisie, three points behind fifth-place Willem II, which occupied the last Europa League spot. However, Utrecht played one game fewer and had a superior goal difference. They have also reached the final of the KNVB cup competition.

AZ Alkmaar, who end the season level on points with Ajax but second due to an inferior goal difference, also are unhappy about the decision which would see Ajax enter the Champions League at a later stage than AZ.

UEFA said on Thursday it would support a “different format” being used to decide leagues, potentially opening the door to systems like play-offs. It also said it wanted Champions League and Europa League spots allocated on “sporting merit”.

The KNVB also said that Ajax, while officially finishing in top position, will not be crowned champions.

That was tough to take for playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who is joining Chelsea next season.

“I think everybody around Amsterdam had hoped for another ending,” he said in an interview on the club’s website. “But sadly, that’s not the case.”