Coronavirus: Liberia end league season

Football in Liberia
Football is on hold until further notice - though there are plans to resolve the cup competitions

Liberia have followed Ethiopia in declaring their football season over following the coronavirus outbreak.

The 2019/20 Liberia Premier League season, which started in November, was declared null and void following an emergency executive committee meeting.

"There is no champion, no promotion, no relegation. We start a new league and determine a new champion for the 2020/2021 league season," Mustapha Raji, President of the Liberia Football Federation, told BBC Sport Africa.

It brings the total of decided leagues in Africa to seven.

Raji stated that there will be no promotion and relegation of clubs at all levels, including the third division and community leagues in 15 counties.

"We are currently under a lockdown that was declared by the president. Looking at the prediction from our health authority that they are looking at a nine-month period and coupled with the comments by the Fifa medical experts, most of the clubs felt there was a need to nullify the league," said Raji.

"The executive committee conveyed on Monday and reviewed the proposals from the club and with the prevalent situation in the country, we decided to end the league and start to plan towards the new season.’’

Raji emphasised that even if the lockdown were to be lifted soon, the coronavirus pandemic had already taken a toll on the financial capabilities of the league sponsors.

"The clubs highlighted the challenges faced in terms of additional revenues from sponsors. Individuals sponsoring the league were no longer in the position to do so due to the pandemic,’’ said Raji.

No champions will be crowned, but the top four in the standings at the time of the league’s suspension will play a tournament to compete for a spot at the CAF Champions League. The cup quarter-finalists will be involved in a playoff to decide on a representative to the CAF Confederation cup.

Though Germany and Italy have employed a reduced training method in the Bundesliga and Serie A, some stakeholders have expressed concerns over the possibility of football returning amid the pandemic.

But Raji said he would welcome a quick return to football in Liberia.

"Definitely, that’s what we want," he explained.

"We want to see football return. We want the feeling that the most popular sports in the country is back.

"Once it returns, it means we have the full certification from the health authorities. Notwithstanding, we are going to ensure that we deploy all the necessary health measures to avoid so much contact of people at the stadium."

Mauritius became the first African country to end their season earlier this month.

Kenya, Angola, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ethiopia and Liberia have followed.

More countries are expected to announce their decisions with Caf issuing a 5 May ultimatum to member associations to decide on how they intend to end their seasons.

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