PIETER STAM DE JONGE/AFP
A Dutch football team that was close to qualifying for a European competition spot before the league was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic is preparing to take legal action.
FC Utrecht was sixth in the Netherlands Eredivisie when Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday that all major events would be cancelled until September, prompting the Dutch Football Association to call off this season.
But Utrecht, which was three points away from a place in the UEFA Europa League with one extra game still to play and a superior goal difference, is preparing to challenge the decision.
Utrecht owner Frans van Seumeren told local broadcaster RTV Utrecht on Friday night that his club will “use all the lawyers we can” in a bid to overturn the decision.
Other Dutch teams were expected to support the bid.
Last year’s champions Ajax were top of the table when the season was cancelled. They will qualify for next year’s Champions League but will not be declared this year’s Dutch champions.
The Netherlands was the first top-tier European league to cancel its season, but other European leagues are predicted to follow its example as the coronavirus pandemic makes public gatherings almost impossible.