The Dutch top flight has officially announced the cancellation of its 2019-20 season, declaring that no champion will be crowned. The decision comes three days after the Netherlands government banned all sports through September due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league also announced that there will be no promotion or relegation this season, meaning that teams in danger of the drop – namely ADO Den Haag (managed by Alan Pardew) and RKC Waalwijk – will remain in the top flight, while clubs in the running for promotion such as Cambuur, Volendam, De Graafschap, and NAC Breda will miss out.
The KNVB announced the decision on Friday after a vote by all the clubs in the league. The KNVB also confirmed that increasing the size of the league to 20 teams – essentially, accommodating promotion but not relegation – was not considered as a viable option in the proceedings. In the wake of the government’s decision, teams had announced their reluctant support for the abandonment of the season, with Ajax posting a statement declaring the situation “regrettable” but “inevitable” as “the interest of public health predominates all else.”
The decision not to crown a champion comes with Ajax leading the table on goal difference over AZ Alkmaar, with both teams level on 56 points. Ajax had led the entire way, but all five of their league losses had come from December 6 on, allowing AZ back in the race.
On Thursday, UEFA announced that while they can make special accommodations for leagues that see their hands forced by government decisions, they still strongly advise countries to finish their domestic seasons. UEFA also said that “in an ideal scenario” qualification for the Champions League and Europa League will come “on sporting merit,” leaving the Champions League status of clubs like Ajax and AZ Alkmaar in limbo.