Netherlands: Men’s Topklasse and Women’s Hoofdklasse to start on 1 May

After a further round of consultation with the clubs the KNCB is pressing ahead with its plans for men’s Topklasse and women’s Hoofdklasse competitions under special Covid-19 regulations, although the Board has had to backtrack on the proposal to include relegation from the Topklasse.

This year, however, there will be official national championships for both men and women.

While it was possible to run reduced programmes in the latter part of last season, no titles were at stake and there was neither promotion nor relegation.

The overwhelming fear of relegation which haunts Dutch clubs has won out again, but the Board insists that clubs in the lower divisions should still have the prospect of promotion.

So in the hope that it will be possible to run at least a nine-match programme for those divisions once the current restrictions are lifted, the intention now is to allow the two top sides from the Hoofdklasse to be promoted into the 2022 Topklasse, producing a twelve-team competition for one season.

The last time twelve teams contested the Dutch top division was in the 1997 season, at the end of which three were relegated with Voorburg coming up to make a ten-team competition. A similar arrangement in 2022 would allow the Topklasse to revert to ten teams, although an ongoing review of all the KNCB’s competition structures has yet to be concluded and may yet yield proposals for more radical change.

It was understood that once the spectre of relegation had been removed only Dosti Amsterdam declined to take part in this year’s Topklasse, mainly because of the technical demands of the testing regime which is an essential part of the Covid-19 protocol.

But in a last-minute change of heart Dosti decided to participate after all, ensuring that all ten Topklasse clubs will be taking part.

As we reported earlier, the KNCB Board has agreed to meet the clubs’ costs in arranging and managing the weekly tests which are required under the protocol.
Five clubs have decided to take part in the Women’s Hoofdklasse: 2019 champions Quick Haag; winners of the 2020 competition Rood en Wit Haarlem; Ajax Leiden; Voorburg; and VRA Amsterdam.

The aim is to begin training and practice games in early April, with the first round of league matches taking place on 1 May.

KNCB Competitions Manager Bart Kroesen said on Tuesday: ‘We see this as an excellent opportunity for clubs to train and play at the highest level.
‘It also offers players of our national teams the opportunity to prepare as well as possible for upcoming ICC matches and events.’

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