BRUSSELS/ROME: Belgium has become the first major European football power to bite the bullet and call a conclusive halt to the 2019-20 because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

European federation delegates were still talking optimistically earlier this week of completing the domestic seasons later in the summer and Italian football has even suggested a possible resumption in late May.

However the managing board of the Jupiler League in Belgium have voted unanimously to end a season which had one maychday remaining ahead of the championshp and European places play-offs.

The general assembly on April 15 is expected to ratify a decision which will see Club Brugge crowned champions. They had been 15 points clear of second-placed Gent.

A league statement said it had acted after governmental advice that a restart before the end of June would be impossible because of ongoing public health concerns.

Later a further explanatory statement explained:

This constructive meeting allowed Belgian football leaders to explain in detail the health and economic reasons for the recommendation by the board of directors, and to challenge any approach that would consist in forcing a league to continue competing in the current state of the health crisis on pain of not being able to participate in European competitions next season.

In favour of solidarity within European football, our representatives called for a variable approach to this concept which makes it possible to take into account the specificities of each league.

Optimistic Italy

Earlier this week Gabriele Gravina, president of the Italian federation, had insisted that the “absolute priority” was to play out the Serie A fixtures schedule, starting perhaps on May 20 at the earliest and ending one way or another before the end of July.

Gravina added: “There is even talk of August and September but I would be sorry to take the risk of compromising another season to save this one.”

One scenario would see matches played out behind closed doors in a small group of stadia.

Gravina said: “Cancelling everything would be complicated. There would be a serious injustice that would lead to a legal dispute during an epidemiological emergency. A summer in court would not be an act of great responsibility.”