The Belgian football authorities are set to press ahead with plans to cancel their top flight domestic campaign, following ‘’positive and constructive talks’’ with UEFA, STV has learned.
Earlier this month, the Belgian Pro League became the first major European league to announce they intend to cancel their season following the outbreak of the coronavirus. If the decision is ratified, Club Brugge would be named champions.
On Tuesday, the Scottish Professional Football League board recommended clubs to vote in favour of a resolution to end this season’s Championship and Leagues 1 and 2 prematurely. Top flight clubs will be asked to give a vote on bringing the season to an end, but their decision will be used as the basis for further discussions with UEFA.
The landmark move by the Belgian authorities to take the decision alone incurred the wrath of UEFA. European football’s governing body threatened that they risked losing Champions League and Europa League spots next season if they ended their current campaign without their prior approval.
Since then, there has been dialogue between UEFA president Alexsander Ceferin and his counterpart at the Belgian FA, Mehei Bayat.
Speaking to STV, both the Belgian FA and the Pro League say they are on track to end the season.
‘’Talks took place with our president Mehei Bayat and UEFA President Alexsander Ceferin – they are working on a solution. It was a good meeting. The talks were positive,’’ said a Belgian FA spokesman.
‘’As far as I know, we will follow through with our plan to cancel the league. This must be ratified by the General Assembly on April 25. Let’s just say, in 90% of cases what goes to the General Assembly is a formality [in being ratified].’’
Earlier this week Ceferin was quoted as saying that the Belgian FA had admitted they had been wrong and would now take their decision to UEFA’s executive committee.
The General Assembly consists of the 24 clubs playing in the first division and second division. 80% of clubs must back the plan to cancel the league for it to be passed.
Their vote takes place two days after UEFA’s executive committee meets.
The SPFL has asked its member clubs to return their votes by Friday. The vote will require 75% of Premiership clubs to be in favour, 75% of the Championship sides, and 75% of League 1 and 2 combined.
The plan has already been met with stiff resistance from some of the clubs affected. Hearts and Partick Thistle, who both stand to be relegated, say they will oppose the move, while Rangers have submitted an alternative plan to see prize money ‘loaned’ to clubs until the future is clearer.
In Belgium, it appears that most, if not all clubs, will back the Pro League board’s decision to call the season to a halt
A Pro League spokesman told STV: ‘’At this point, no club has considered challenging the Board’s decision.
“How have clubs reacted to UEFA’s threat? Clubs are concerned, of course, but we feel we have taken the correct decision towards Belgian society, Belgian people and public health.
“Our president Peter Croonen and chief executive Pierre Francois have been involved in discussions with Alexsander Ceferin . These discussions were constructive.’’
When asked how confident the league is their decision will be ratified, the spokesman said: ‘’We are confident we can have a constructive solution with UEFA. It’s a decision we haven’t taken lightly.’’
The Belgian season was called to a halt in the middle of the relegation and promotion play-offs, with only one leg of each fixture taking place. The authorities are considering league reconstruction to solve this issue.
The league spokesman said: ‘’We took the decision to set up a working group to examine other issues such as the incomplete play-off finals.
“We’ve looked at the possibility of expanding league 1A from 16 to 18 clubs This working group is composed of six members of the board. The decision will ideally be taken on April 25, the same day the General Assembly meets.’’