Belgian league cancelled, so Club Brugge are champions, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Belgian league cancelled, so Club Brugge are champions

Belgian top flight declares season finished with one round left

Club Brugge have been declared Belgian champions, after the remainder of the country's top-flight season was cancelled yesterday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belgian football league has recommended that the campaign be declared finished, with the table accepted as final, becoming the first European league to take such a measure.

With former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in their ranks, Brugge secured a runaway 15-point lead at the top of the standings.

There was only one round of matches left to play, before the start of the post-season playoffs, involving the top six clubs.

They were runners-up last season to Genk, who were seventh when the league was suspended last month in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision by the Pro League board must be ratified at a meeting of the 24 clubs in the top two divisions on April 15 but, last week, 17 of them had already called for the season to be cancelled.

In a statement, the league said it was "very unlikely" to be able to hold matches in front of crowds before June 30 and that it had "unanimously decided that it was not desirable... to continue the competition" after that date.

Matches behind closed doors were "theoretically possible", but the league said it preferred not to put more pressure on health services and police in the circumstances.

It therefore agreed not to restart the season and "accept the current league table as final".

A five-man working group has been set up to decide how to deal with the issue of relegation and promotion and places in next season's European club competitions.


Ghent were second in the standings and will be hopeful of being given Belgium's other Champions League place, while the country has three berths in next season's Europa League.

The working group will also decide what to do about the Belgian Cup final between Brugge and Antwerp, which was to have been played in Brussels on March 22, but was also suspended.

Media reports yesterday said it was hoped that the cup final plus the second division promotion final between Beerschot and OH Leuven could still be played if the governement allowed.

The decision to cancel the league campaign came the day after a Uefa meeting recommended that countries try to complete their seasons, even if it means playing on into August.

But clubs in Belgium, where the death toll from the coronavirus passed 1,000 yesterday, have been pressing for more than a week to end the campaign amid concern over finances.

The Belgian league's TV deal is far less lucrative than that of its neighbours. - REUTERS, AFP