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European expulsion threatened if Pro League cancel their season

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

16:29 3 Apr 2020

It already seems as though the ramifications of Belgian's Pro League proposing an early finish due to the coronavirus pandemic could be messy. 

The Pro League's board of directors voted this week to end their 2019-20 campaign, even though there was one game remaining of the regular season.

If the decision is green-lit by a General Assembly on April 15, then Club Brugge - who hold a 15-point lead over Gent - will be crowned champions.

The plan has sent ripples across Europe, with a letter co-signed by UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues group requesting all leagues finish their current seasons when football is allowed to resume.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has added his voice to the conversation, telling ZDF's Aktuelles Sportstudio, "The Belgians and others who may be thinking now [of doing the same], risk their participation in the European Cups next season."

Ceferin's sentiment echoes that of Thursday's co-signed letter which said, "any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified."

But Pro League president Peter Croonen told Le Soir, "The country has other priorities than football".

A Pro League working group is yet to determine how European places would be determined, who will be relegated and promoted, and how the league will be played next season.

Croonen - who is also president of KRC Genk - told the Belgian paper, "There are a number of questions that arise as a result of this recommendation.

"The working group will try to formulate answers to these questions. The logic put forward is that the league standings takes precedence.

But Ceferin told ZDF, "I don't think this is the right solution. Solidarity is not a one-way street. You cannot ask for help and then just decide for yourself how it should be applied, ”said the Slovenian again.

“Football is absolutely not the same without the fans. But it is clearly preferable to play football without spectators so that it returns to television. It brings positive energy to homes. And I think it will be in July and August".

An 80 per cent majority of Belgium's 24 professional clubs need to ratify the plan to end the season, which Croonen sees as the only reasonable one, "From an individual point of view for the clubs, this is not the ideal scenario. I am thinking in particular of my own club, Racing Genk.

"But everyone accepts that these are exceptional circumstances.

"This requires exceptional decisions that act in the public interest."

Croonen also concedes legal battles may arise from the situation, but he and the working group would hope they can be avoided.

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Aleksander Ceferin Belgium Bruges Club Brugge Genk Jupiler Pro League Peter Croonen UEFA

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