Season 19/20 officially done, FFM makes a mess over European spots

The interrupted season in the Macedonian top flight will never see it’s end. According to the statement released by FFM, a champion isn’t proclaimed, but places to Champions League and Europa League are allocated. There is no relegation.

photo by FK Vardar Skopje: Vardar and Makedonija GjP are the biggest losers of the interrupted season

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Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic the Macedonian football went into lockdown. While almost every league across Europe resumed playing, Macedonian top flight and Cup, scheduled to resume in second half of June, got definitely interrupted after 5 people at Renova and 2 at Shkendija tested positive. Also, the situation in Macedonian is getting worse and worse with +/- 100 new cases being exposed daily.

Vardar started celebrating online their 11th title (12th as they keep counting the one revoked in former Yugioslavia), but FFM never actually proclaimed them champions. According to the document released by the Federation, Vardar is first-placed team at the frozen table of the interrupted season. Pelister and Belasica were confirmed as promoted teams.

“The Board of directors of the Football federation of Macedonia accepted the proposal of the Commission for competitions regarding the frozen tables of the season 2019/20 after Round 23 in the 1.MFL and Round 17 of the 2.MFL in which both first-placed teams of 2.MFL East and 2.MFL West are promoted to the 1.MFL season 2020/21, while Vardar is first-placed in the 1.MFL season 2019/20. Despite as being first-placed Vardar gained a spot in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, they will not see that coming after being denied the necessary UEFA license.”

Vardar could not acquire a UEFA license due to the chaos within the club and the big financial debt the club is sinking in.

1.MFL 2019/20

PosClubPtsPWDLFAGD
146231373331419
23623106724213
335231058382018
4312394102533-8
5292378828280
629237882428-4
7282377920200
8282384112129-8
9272376102031-11
10252367101928-9
Champions League | qualifications
Europa League | qualifications

FFM is always talking about a “frozen” table, a term that does not exist in their official Rules for competitions which you can read here (only in Macedonian language). Since they do not accept the table as “final”, they can go around the rules and don’t award the title to the first-placed team.

Moreover, FFM announced that Sileks, as second-placed team at the “frozen” table, will be taking over Vardar’s spot in the Champions League. Third-placed Shkendija and fourth-placed Renova will play in the Europa League qualifiers, while the real mess came when allocating the remaining Europa League spot.

Makedonija GjP and Shkupi are equal on points at the 5th place with Shkupi having the better goal-difference of 28:28 to 24:28, but the Lions have the better head-to-head record this season with a 0:0 draw at home (Round 9) and a 2:3 road win (Round 18).

Again we come to the term “frozen” table. Why? According to the rules, during an active season teams equal on points are split by goal-difference, not by head-to-head record. But in a “final” table teams equal on points, only if necessary for allocating a place in European cups, relegation, play-offs or champions, are being divided with a head-to-head record. FFM never explained how they chose Shkupi over Makedonija GjP, but their statement citing:

“Because of the interrupted Cup and the impossibility a winner to be proclaimed in the Macedonian Cup, the Europa League spot reserved for the Cup winner is being transferred to the next best ranked team in the league that hasn’t been awarded a UEFA spot. The Commission for competitions came to a conclusion, while the Board of directors of FFM accepted their proposal, that that next best team in the league after Round 23 on the “frozen” 1.MFL table is the 5th placed team of Shkupi who will compete in the UEFA Europa League.”

“We respect the decision taken by FFM, but the rules are clear. The head-to-head record decides who to be better ranked at the table. We will wait for an official explanation in order to see how Shkupi has been put ahead of us. We wish luck to all Macedonian teams in their European matches”, is the statement of Makedonija GjP given to web site Goal.mk.

Article 107 of the Rules for competitions says: “If two clubs have the same amount of points higher placed team is the one with a better head-to-head record”.

FFM, probably deliberately, all the time uses the term “frozen”, unexisting in their rule book. With such scenario free interpretation is the only possible explanation we can come up with. However, this article never mentions “final” table or any other situation.

Our opinion is that if Makedonija GjP issues an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Laussane, they will definitely win the case and get their Europa League spot since free interpretation isn’t regulated in the rule book of FFM.

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