Club Brugge champions and Newcastle Falcons promoted in methods which would put Leeds United in Premier League

TWO governing bodies have wrapped up their sporting seasons amidst the prolonged pause due to coronavirus in a fashion that would see Leeds United promoted to the Premier League if applied to the EFL.
CHAMPIONS: Club Brugge have won the 2019-20 Jupiler Pro League after the season was ended early with placings finishing as they stood. Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images.CHAMPIONS: Club Brugge have won the 2019-20 Jupiler Pro League after the season was ended early with placings finishing as they stood. Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images.
CHAMPIONS: Club Brugge have won the 2019-20 Jupiler Pro League after the season was ended early with placings finishing as they stood. Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images.

Marcelo Bielsa's Whites have seen their promotion bid put on hold with the Premier League and EFL campaigns currently indefinitely extended and with football suspended until at least April 30.

Officials, though, are aware there is no realistic chance of playing this month given the ongoing social distancing measures put in place to battle COVID-19 and with Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jenny Harries saying it could take up to six months for the country to return to normal.

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In seeking a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, Leeds sit top of the Championship and hold a seven-point cushion in the automatic promotion spots with West Brom in second.

The EFL said on Wednesday evening that discussions were set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

There have been calls in some quarters to declare the season null and void though the EFL said last month that their primary objective is to deliver a successful conclusion to the rest of the season by finishing the remainder of the campaign on the pitch.

But over in Belgium, officials have opted to cancel the remainder of the season with Club Brugge declared champions despite the division's fixtures not being completed.

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Brugge were 15 points clear at the top of the 16-team Belgian Jupiler Pro League with only one game left of the regular season but a play-off competition involving the top six teams is then used to decide who is crowned champions and which sides seal European slots for next season.

Brugge, though, have already been handed the title with Gent also sealing qualification for the Champions League as runners-up, despite being only one point ahead of third-placed Charleroi and only two ahead of fourth-placed Antwerp.

The issues of relegation and promotion were other thorny issues with one team usually relegated and Waasland-Beveren bottom but only two points behind second bottom KV Oostende and three adrift of Cercle Bruges with one game left.

One team is usually promoted from the second tier in the form of the winners from a two legged play-off match between the top two but only one leg has been played so far with Oud Heverlee Leuven losing the first leg 1-0 at Beerschot.

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But both Oud Heverlee Leuven and Beerschot will now be promoted into an 18-team top flight next season with no relegation from the current campaign.

The decision was made after a meeting of the Belgian Pro League council who recommended the proposal to the general assembly but approval is a formality and the decision will be made oficial later this month,

And switching sports to rugby union, Newcastle Falcons' promotion to the Premiership looks set to be rubber-stamped after the Rugby Football Union council agreed to conclude the Greene King IPA Championship season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The north-east side led the league by 18 points from Ealing Trailfinders when competition was forced to stop due to the outbreak.

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Saracens have already accepted relegation from the Premiership due to breaches of the salary cap regulations.

The RFU said that the final standings for the 2019-20 Championship and also the men's and women's community game would be calculated on a best playing record formula.

That formula has sent Falcons up and United would also be promoted under that system in finishing top with 89 points (88.5) with West Brom second on 87 points (86.8) and Fulham third with 79 points (79.2).

The RFU's president, Peter Wheeler, said: "We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions.

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"We have listened to recommendations from the heart of the game and the approach has been ratified by the RFU Council.

"This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.

"With 80 per cent of the season complete for the community game, we believe our approach is fair and the right one for our leagues. We have clubs that are clear league leaders and those who have said they would benefit from relegation to play more meaningful rugby."

The RFU said the final tables will be published by 6pm on Friday.

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RFU chief Bill Sweeney said: "The season stopped on March 14 and that represented about 80 per cent of the games being played.

"We felt the most fair and reasonable way to approach this now was to apply a pretty simple formula in terms of away and home record and apply that to the balance of games outstanding - and then when the season is closed off, be able to announce promotion and relegation.

"We did consult with the game. The overwhelming response back from the game was they they had a preference to go that way."