No Dutch league title awarded this season says FA

VIDEO SHOWS: ANNOUNCEMENT BY DUTCH PRIME MINISTER, MARK RUTTE THAT LARGE EVENTS WILL BE PROHIBITED UNTIL AT LEAST SEPTEMBER 1, FILE OF AJAX TRAINING, FILE OF FANS OUTSIDE STADIUM, FILE OF NETHERLANDS TRAINING, STILL PHOTOS OF LEADING TEAMS IN THE DUTCH LEAGUE

SHOWS:

THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS (APRIL 21, 2020) (NOS - NO USE NETHERLANDS)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (Dutch) DUTCH PRIME MINISTER, MARK RUTTE, SAYING:

"Thirdly, the events. They won't take place until September 1 (2020). So, we're extending that decision by three months, from June 1 to September 1. We're doing this because we certainly can't cope with the risks in the coming months and because we want to do justice to the need for clarity on the part of the organisers. That means no Pinkpop (music festival) this year, no Vierdaagse (hiking event), no Zwarte Cross (music and motor cross festival). That also means definitely no professional football until September 1. And yes, that's harsh. But with all the consequences this crisis has for the health of the people, for companies and for the society as a whole, we cannot escape making this sacrifice for each other."

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - MAY 16, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

2. AJAX AMSTERDAM PLAYERS ON STAGE WITH THE EREDIVISIE TROPHY AS THEY CELEBRATE WINNING THE DUTCH 2018/19 SEASON

3. DUSAN TADIC LIFTING TROPHY AS SEEN ON LARGE SCREEN

4. SIGN, READING (Dutch): "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 18/19"

5.CROWD / PLAYERS ON STAGE

6. AJAX COACH, ERIK TEN HAG CALLED ONTO STAGE TO LIFT TROPHY

7. CROWD, SINGING: "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS"

8. CROWD CLAPPING, CHILDREN SITTING ATOP SHOULDERS

9. CLOSE OF MAN WITH SCARF, READING "AJAX AMSTERDAM" CROWD IS SINGING "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS"

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - OCTOBER 22, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

10. PHOTO OF JOHAN CRUYFF ON EXTERIOR OF THE JOHAN CRUYFF ARENA

11. VARIOUS OF AJAX AMSTERDAM CLUB LOGO ON EXTERIOR OF STADIUM

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - NOVEMBER 4, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

12. VARIOUS OF AJAX TRAINING AHEAD OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP H MATCH AGAINST CHELSEA

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - MAY 8, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

13. AJAX FANS OUTSIDE JOHAN CRUYFF ARENA

14. SIGN ON EXTERIOR OF STADIUM SHOWING PHOTO OF JOHAN CRUYFF AND READING: "JOHAN CRUYFF ARENA"

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - MARCH 21, 2013) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

15. VARIOUS OF NETHERLANDS TEAM TRAINING INSIDE THE JOHAN CRUYFF ARENA

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - FEBRUARY 27, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

16. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF SHOWING AJAX PLAYERS, CURRENTLY FIRST IN DUTCH LEAGUE, BEFORE EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 32, SECOND LEG MATCH AGAINST GETAFE

ALKMAAR, NETHERLANDS (FILE - FEBRUARY 20, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

17. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF SHOWING AZ ALKMAAR PLAYERS, CURRENTLY SECOND IN DUTCH LEAGUE, BEFORE EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 32, FIRST LEG MATCH AGAINST LASK LINZ

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS (FILE - NOVEMBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

18. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF FEYENOORD PLAYERS, CURRENTLY THIRD IN DUTCH LEAGUE, BEFORE EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP G MATCH AGAINST YOUNG BOYS

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS (FILE - DECEMBER 12, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

19. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF PSV EINDHOVEN PLAYERS, CURRENTLY FOURTH IN DUTCH LEAGUE, BEFORE EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP D MATCH AGAINST ROSENBORG

STORY: No Dutch top-flight league soccer title will be awarded this season after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the campaign to a premature close, the Dutch FA (KNVB) said after a meeting with clubs and unions representing coaches and players on Friday (April 24).

However, Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar, who were level on points at the top of the standings with nine rounds of matches still to play, will go into next season's Champions League.

The campaign was declared over on Tuesday (April 21) when the Dutch government extended a ban on public events to Sept. 1 in an effort to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus, which has caused more than 4,000 deaths in the Netherlands.

Ajax were top of the Eredivisie table with 56 points from 25 games, only ahead of AZ on goal difference, and both teams will now fill the Netherlands' qualifying places in UEFA's 2020-21 Champions League, Europe's elite club competition.

"In these times, under these circumstances it is not appropriate to speak of a championship, therefore we only confirm the placing of the clubs as per the last standings," the KNVB said in a statement.

On the basis of top place, Ajax will take the Netherlands' automatic place in the Champions League group phase while AZ will enter the competition at the preliminary round stage.

AZ, this season's surprise package, were last in the elite competition in 2009-10 when they reached the group stage.

Third-placed Feyenoord Rotterdam will compete in Europa League group phase, while PSV Eindhoven, who are fourth, and Willem II Tilburg in fifth will be in the preliminary rounds.

It was also decided there would be no relegation and promotion after a vote of the 38 first and second division clubs.

ADO Den Haag and RKC Waalwijk were expected to be relegated after filling the bottom two places to be replaced by the top two in the second-tier -- Cambuur Leeuwarden and De Graafschap.

But it was decided that the same 18 clubs from this season will contest the top flight again in the next campaign.

"Unfortunately, with the cabinet's most recent corona measures, it has become impossible to play out the rest of the 2019/2020 season," the FA statement added.

"It will be crystal clear to everyone involved, from supporters and players to directors and referees, that public health always comes first.

"Today's decisions made about the settlement of the competition were for a mere football problem in the perspective of what the corona virus has caused to society.

"Nevertheless, the KNVB is aware that today's decisions will cause great disappointment in football for some," the FA said.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall, Tim Hart)

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