Coronavirus: Club Brugge crowned champions as Belgium cancels rest of season

Belgium has become the first European top-tier league to cancel the rest of its season with Club Brugge crowned league champions.

The league's Board of Directors held a conference call on Thursday where it was decided that the league should not resume.

The Belgian league's decision came hours before UEFA, the European Club Association and the European Leagues umbrella group sent a joint letter to their members saying it was of "paramount importance" that competitions, including domestic leagues, were decided on the field.

Club Brugge had a 15 point lead at the top of the table with just one round of games left to play before the start of the post-season playoffs, involving the top six clubs.

Gent have secured a Champions League place as the league's runners-up while last year's champions Genk come in seventh place.

The decision must be ratified by a meeting of the 24 clubs in the top two divisions but 17 of them had already last week called for the season to be cancelled.

A meeting will be held on April 15 to ratify the decision and a working group has been set up to consider the financial implications of ending the league early.

"The Board of Directors took note of the recommendations of Dr. Van Ranst and the government that it is highly unlikely that games with the public will be played before June 30. The current situation also makes it very unclear whether and when a resumption of collective training courses can be foreseen at all," the league said in a statement.

"Even if games behind closed doors could theoretically be possible, the additional pressure they place on health and order services should be avoided. Moreover, decisions by local authorities threaten to make a joint course of match days impossible.

"The Board of Directors has unanimously decided that it is not desirable to continue the competition after June 30. Given the above elements, the Board of Directors has formulated a unanimous advice to the General Meeting not to resume the competitions of the season '19 -'20 and to accept the current state of the Jupiler Pro League as final classification [subject to the decisions of the licensing committee]."

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.