Clubs propose end to 2020 V. League amid new coronavirus outbreak

By Hoang Nguyen, Lam ThoaJuly 28, 2020 | 05:15 am PT
Clubs propose end to 2020 V. League amid new coronavirus outbreak
Song Lam Nghe An players (in yellow) during a V. League 1 match with Hanoi FC on June 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Quang Nam FC, Duoc Nam Ha Nam Dinh, Hai Phong FC and Song Lam Nghe An have proposed ending 2020 V. League 1 after new community transmissions pause play.

"Covid-19 has returned to Vietnam, pausing 2020 V. League 1 anew and ramping up costs. So, Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) has proposed ending the league early," Nguyen Hong Thanh, president of SLNA, said on Monday.

Thanh suggested using current standings as the final result for 2020 V. League, which means Saigon FC should be crowned champions, and skip relegation this season.

Next year, the number of V. League 1 teams can be raised to 16, including the current 14 and top two promoted from V. League 2, he said.

On Sunday, Vietnam Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) decided to discontinue 2020 V. League 1, the top domestic football tournament, after local infections of Covid-19 resurfaced in Vietnam after months.

This is the third time this year the V. League 1 schedule has been affected by the pandemic. First, the start was moved from February 21 to March 6, before the league was stopped after two matches until June 5.

"Clubs will face difficulties if we keep waiting. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we think it makes sense to stop 2020 V. League here," Thanh added.

Agreeing with SLNA, Quang Nam FC thinks ending the league early is a reasonable solution.

"We support SLNA's proposal over safety reasons. Instead of thinking about league benefits, we should consider saving lives. Covid-19 has returned to Vietnam, no one knows for how long," Quang Nam FC President Nguyen Hup said.

The club's assistant coach Duong Van Tuyen is in quarantine after visiting a relative at Da Nang Hospital, which has been linked to at least 12 Covid-19 cases in the city.

Hai Phong FC shares SLNA and Quang Nam's views, proposing to stop 2020 V. League 1 and, award accolades to the top three teams and skip relegation. Nam Dinh, in turn, requested canceling the tournament without a champion or relegation.

The four clubs are at the bottom of this year's standings.

Their conjoined proposal might not be approved.

VPF President Tran Anh Tu said it has received the proposal and informed Vietnam Football Federation President Le Khanh Hai, but that "we would prefer the league to continue."

"Canceling 2020 V. League will affect sponsors, league and club finances, the form of players and the national team. Therefore, VPF will only consider league cancelation as a final option. Right now, everyone needs to be patient and keep track of the Covid-19 situation in Vietnam," Tu said.

Vietnam had already taken steps to wrap up the league compared to previous years.

It was announced in mid-May that during its second stage, the 14 participating clubs would be divided into two groups with the top eight competing for the title and the bottom six playing to avoid relegation.

Since last Saturday, Vietnam has recorded 22 community transmissions, the first in more than three months. Of the new patients, 18 are in Da Nang, three in Quang Nam Province and the other in Quang Ngai Province. They have raised the country's Covid-19 cases to 438, with 69 of them active.

Da Nang has ordered 14 days of social distancing starting Tuesday. It has required residents to maintain a distance of at least two meters from each other and prohibits gatherings of more than two people in public, except in offices, schools and hospitals.

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