The Pro League will reconsider via video conference on Thursday how to proceed with the Jupiler Pro League and the Proximus League. These were shut down until at least May 1 due to the corona crisis. On Wednesday, UEFA extended the deadline for the completion of the national competitions by more than a month.
The Belgian football competitions will certainly not resume before 1 May, and the group training sessions of the professional clubs will also be stopped until at least 5 April. Whether that ban will be extended or not will be clear on Thursday. After the training can be restarted, another four weeks of ‘preparation’ must be observed before the competition slot can possibly take place.
There are still four scenarios on the table for the further course, with or without duels behind closed doors. UEFA’s decision to give national leagues the opportunity to finish until August 3 increases the likelihood of scenario 1 (complete play-offs). In doing so, Belgium would walk the same path as the big five European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France), which will kill the impending financial massacre.
Much of course depends on how the corona crisis continues to develop. Buying time is also an option. The Pro League is gradually realizing that no solution is ideal. Seventeen professional clubs want to draw a final mark under the 2019-2020 season. In an open letter, they urged a quick decision. Logical, because in the current situation they have more to lose financially than they can win when finishing the competition. Waasland-Beveren, Virton, Roeselare and Lokeren are already putting their players on technical unemployment, despite the advice of the Pro League not to.
In addition, the seventeen professional clubs find football irresponsible in times of corona and advocate drawing attention to next season’s preparation. There is still something to earn for the other seven clubs. Consider, for example, a place in play-off 1, extra TV money or European tickets. They see the opportunity to play football with the UEFA deadline to August 3, although that may happen in empty stadiums. A scenario of which the smaller clubs are already shivering.
Stopping now also has consequences. Because who will become champion? Who gets which European tickets? Who is going down? Who is rising? Questions that can give rise to legal spectacles. To avoid some, some drivers drew up plans for a competition with 18 or even 20 teams. Also unclear: what about the last installment of the TV money? In cases of force majeure, the Pro League is insured, but the corona crisis has not yet been recognized as such.
The Pro League board of directors will meet on Thursday on the issues, but will not vote yet. This is only possible at a General Meeting where all clubs are present.