No Dutch league title awarded this season; Osasuna directors jailed
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.
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 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.
Five former Osasuna directors jailed for corruption - court filing
Five former directors of La Liga club Osasuna and two ex-Real Betis players have been handed prison sentences after being found guilty on a series of corruption charges, a Spanish court filing showed on Friday.
Osasuna's former managing director Angel Vizcay was given the heaviest prison sentence, of eight years and eight months, for charges including misappropriation of funds, falsification of accounts and sporting corruption.
Former Betis players Antonio Amaya and Xavi Torres were handed prison sentences of one year each for sporting corruption, added the filing, which said this was the first time any convictions had been made in Spain for sporting corruption.
The sentences are subject to an appeal.
Osasuna president Luis Sabalza said he was pleased with the sentence and reiterated that his club had denounced the previous administration which led to them being convicted.
"We are happy. Osasuna were the ones who brought this case to the courts because when we arrived at the club we saw things which we didn't like and I think the suspicions we had have been confirmed and the courts have done their job," he said in a statement on the club website.
Betis meanwhile said they were "repulsed" by the actions of their two former players, who they said had "caused unfair damage to our club.
"As it has been proved, Real Betis had nothing to do with these lamentable actions," added their statement.
"Real Betis has always played an active part in the fight against corruption in football and in favour of fair play, working hand in hand with La Liga and the other organisations that run our sport."
La Liga also welcomed the convictions.
"This sentence strengthens La Liga's fight against corruption and its bid to defend the integrity of football competitions against any attempts of interference be it altering the course of a season or the result of a match," said a statement from the organisation.
The court filing said it had been proved that the Osasuna directors agreed to pay Amaya and Torres a total of 650,000 euros ($701,935.00) to incentivise them to help Betis beat Real Valladolid in the penultimate match of the 2013/14 season and to lose their final game of the campaign against Osasuna.
Betis, who had already been relegated and finished bottom of the table, beat Valladolid 4-3 while Osasuna won 2-1 against Betis but were still relegated.
Two real estate agents were also convicted for falsifying documents to help Osasuna balance the books for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons and were given prison sentences of nine months.
Vizcay and the other jailed Osasuna directors were also ordered to reimburse the club 2,340,000 euros for the misuse of funds during the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.