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Belgium cancels season, Club Brugge champions

Belgian football chiefs have cancelled the remaining of the season and crowned Club Brugge champions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have broken ranks from the rest of Europe and called an immediate end to the 2019-20 campaign with just one game of the regular season to go before the play-offs, which usually determine the championship winner and the Europa League places.

The Jupiler Pro League’s board of directors voted unanimously for cancellation in a conference call on Thursday – and it is anticipated to be ratified by the general assembly on April 15. 

Brugge are 15 points ahead of Gent in second – who have now claimed a place in next season’s Champions League – and claim their 16th league title. 

The league, which comprises 26 teams, usually ends after 30 games before the top six enter a play-off system.

Their points tally is halved, and rounded up, for the play-offs before they face each other again home and away. 

‘The Board of Directors took note of the recommendations of Dr Van Ranst and the government that it is highly unlikely that matches with the public will be played before June 30’, the league said in a statement.

‘The current situation also makes it very unclear whether and when a resumption of collective training courses can be foreseen at all.

‘Even if games behind closed doors could theoretically be possible, the additional pressure they place on health and order services should be avoided. Moreover, decisions by local authorities threaten to make a joint course of match days not possible.

‘The Board of Directors has unanimously decided that it is not desirable to continue the competition after June 30. Given the above elements, the Board of Directors has formulated a unanimous advice to the General Meeting not to resume the competitions of the season ’19 -’20 and to accept the current state of the Jupiler Pro League as final classification [subject to the decisions of the licensing committee].’

All European football, barring Belarus, has been suspended since last month due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Belgium’s move could put pressure on other European leagues to follow suit and cancel their seasons.

The Premier League is set to hold a crisis meeting on Friday where the current comeback date, pencilled in for April 30, will be discussed.

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