Egypt Premier League’s runaway log leaders Al Ahly have warned aborting the 2019-20 will leave many clubs on the brink of financial ruin.
The country’s Premier League has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only about half of the campaign having been completed.
Many clubs have warned against the prospect of re-starting the league due to health and safety reasons, while Egyptian FA official Hossam El Zanati recently warned that the time frame to close out the current season is tightening.
However, the Red Devils, who are unbeaten this season after winning 16 of their 17 fixtures, believe any decision “other than resuming the season will result in the clubs losing their earnings from marketing and television rights”.
The club believes there is no need to rush into taking a decision to call off the league, given that there is still enough time after the Olympic Games and the African qualifiers for national teams were postponed.
“Ahly, and possibly all clubs, have already paid around 85 percent of the salaries of players and members of the technical, administrative and medical staffs. If the season is cancelled, the clubs will not get more than 50 percent of television and sponsorship rights,” Al Ahly added.
Egypt has cancelled its domestic season twice in the last decade: the 2011-12 campaign was scrapped in the wake of the Port Said disaster, which left over 70 Ahly fans dead, and the following season was also called off following the mass protests that toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The Egyptian FA’s vice president Gamal Ali last month said cancelling the league was not in the association’s plans.
“We need three months to finish the league. If it resumes in July, then the league will end in October.
“Players need to have a month-long preparation period to boost their fitness after the long rest they had. They are already doing individual exercises but it’s still not enough,” Ali added.
Second-placed Al Mokawloon are 13 points behind Ahly, having played 18 of their fixtures so far.
By Mthokozisi Dube