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Saturday, November 28, 2020

‘Very doubtful’ Premier League will play again in 2019

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KNVB president Just Spee believes that even games behind closed doors will be too much to ask

Just Spee, the president of the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB), has said he thinks it’s “very doubtful” the Premier League will be able to finish its 2019-20 campaign. 

Spee’s comments came one day after the KNVB decided to end the Eredivisie season ​due to the coronavirus crisis, with no champion declared and without promotion and relegation.

“It was a very bitter day because you want this to happen on the pitch, not by two or three people behind a table having to make this decision,” Spee told the BBC.

“There are winners and losers and in particular for the losers it was a very very bad day so we feel sad. We feel sad that we had to come to such a decision, we sympathise a lot with those clubs and their supporters. At the same time, there was no way around it.”

Several clubs were left fuming by the KNVB decision, with Utrecht saying they will take legal action after missing out on the Europa League. Cambuur head coach Henk de Jong, meanwhile, called the decision “the biggest disgrace in the history of Dutch sports” after his side were denied an almost-certain promotion to the Eredivisie.

With football all across Europe on hold due to the pandemic, the conclusion in the Netherlands could set a precedent as leagues look to return with matches behind closed doors.

Spee, however, is not confident that games without fans is even feasible this season.

“It is slim,” was Spee’s reply when asked about the chances of European leagues returning in any fashion in 2019-20.

“At the same time I do know that what is true for us – we are footballers, we want to play – is true for all of my colleagues around the continent.

“And in the UK it is not different. So they will hold onto a sliver of hope as long as it’s there. But again, we’ve seen how this develops. Is it realistic? In the end it probably will not be but we’ll see.

“To be honest, seeing what is happening and seeing that things get postponed week by week by week, how realistic is it that within the next three or four weeks we will come to a different conclusion? Not so much I believe.

“And also the Premier League will need a number of weeks to complete their competition. Is there going to be enough time for that? Doubtful, very doubtful.”

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