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Government ruling set to end Eredivisie season

Ramon Leeuwin of AZ Alkmaar, Donny van de Beek of Ajax, Dani de Wit of AZ Alkmaar during the Eredivisie match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar (Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)

The Dutch government has extended a ban on major public events until September 1 in a move that effectively ends the 2019-20 season of football’s Eredivisie.

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) confirmed that no football will be able to be played until September 1, even behind closed doors.

The KNVB will consult with Uefa, football’s European governing body, before reaching a final decision and clubs are set to meet on Friday to discuss the consequences of ending the season early.

The KNVB added that it had not cancelled the Eredivisie season until now to try and avoid potential financial losses to its clubs. Ajax, AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven have previously called for the season to be ended and had been critical of the KNVB’s plans to try and finish the campaign, with the governing body having been working to the scenario of finishing the season by August 3 at the latest.

At the start of the month, the KNVB said that it was working to the scenario of finishing the 2019-20 season by August 3 at the latest or permanently discontinuing the season.

The KNVB’s statement comes after pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports agreed to pay the final fee instalment for the Eredivisie, but only if the league did not unilaterally cancel the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season. The fee would be worth €22m ($24m).

Fox Sports holds broadcast rights for the Eredivisie in a 12-season deal running from 2013-14 to 2024-25 and worth an average guaranteed sum of €80m per season.

The broadcaster had previously been tight-lipped about whether it would withhold the fee instalment. Its decision to pay the fee contrasts with the position taken by several broadcasters of other European football leagues. For instance, French pay-television companies Canal Plus and beIN Sports have decided not to pay fee instalments totalling €152m for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

It remains to be seen how the KNVB will decide on the league winners, Uefa Champions League and Europa League qualifiers and relegated clubs for the 2019-20 season. Prior to the season’s suspension, Ajax were top of the table ahead of AZ Alkmaar on goal difference.