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Is decision to call early end of season to Jupiler League a special case?

2 years ago

The decision of the Jupiler League to end their season prematurely has sparked speculation as to whether it will be the first of many.

The board of directors of the Jupiler League recommending that the season should be ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday’s recommendation still needs to be endorsed at a general assembly of clubs when they meet on 15 April but you would imagine the league’s directors canvassed clubs privately before announcing that decision.

So will this decision in Belgium be the domino that then topples numerous other countries in Europe to do the same?

That is of course possible but Belgium is a bit of a special case in many ways.

Their season starts earlier than others, kicking off in July 2019 and clubs only had one of their 30 games left to play when football was suspended.

This is how the table looks:

Announcing the decision/recommendation, the Jupiler League Directors stated:

“A resumption of the competition would in no way outweigh the health risks for players, employees and everyone involved in the competition organisation and the necessary maintenance of order,” the statement said.

“In addition, possible contamination of a player or the core of the team risks to influence the sporting course of the further competition in an unacceptable manner.

“Even if games behind closed doors could theoretically be possible, the additional pressure they place on health and order services should be avoided.”

Their decision was also made easier by the fact that most of the outcomes could be seen as relatively fair if they take the table above as the final one.

To achieve this, the Jupiler League (Mitrovic pictured above when he was playing for Anderlecht) had/has to also cancel the complicated play-off system that they usually have after the regular season ends, which dictates everything from who is eventually crowned champions to who qualifies for Europe.

Under the plan to end the season now, with a 15 points advantage, nobody could say that Club Brugge don’t deserve to be crowned champions.

Antwerp are four points clear of fifth placed Standard Liege, so awarding the other European places Gent, Charleroi and Antwerp, who are currently 2nd, 3rd and 4th, would appear fair also.

The biggest potential issue you would imagine is bottom side Waasland-Beveren who would be relegated, unless they decided to extend the top tier by one club next season.

The Jupiler League Directors also announced that a working group has been set up to consider the ‘financial implications’ that would/could be caused if the season ends prematurely.

Obviously TV money in Belgium is tiny compared to the Premier League and any penalties from broadcasters and sponsors etc should be minimal for not playing the final game of the regular season. Though their play-offs being cancelled could be a different matter.

For most major European leagues including the Premier League things are far more complicated, so many issues still to be resolved with most having around a quarter of the season remaining: titles, Champions League places, promotion and relegation. Then especially with the Premier League now so reliant on TV income, the compensation that could be demanded by broadcasters if this season isn’t eventually played out.


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