Relegated Deportivo fume over ‘botched’ decision to delay final game

Madrid (AFP) – Former Spanish champions Deportivo La Coruna were set Tuesday to contest the “botched” decision to postpone their final match of the second division season after players on the opposing team tested positive for coronavirus.

Deportivo were relegated to the third tier on Monday as the rest of the division finished their campaigns while Deportivo were forced to sit out the final round of fixtures.

“The last day’s matches must all be replayed,” claimed Deportivo president Fernando Vidal, who announced the club would be lodging appeals to the Spanish league and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Vidal had initially praised La Liga for “acting correctly with all the protocols assiduously applied” in calling off Monday’s game against Fuenlabrada.

But later he had an altogether different response after the 2000 La Liga champions dropped down another division following wins for relegation rivals Albacete and Lugo over Cadiz and Mirandes respectively.

“We were very surprised when they told us all the other games were going ahead,” Vidal told reporters.

“A major mistake has been made. The final two rounds of matches must kick off at the same time.

“The last day must be replayed, there’s no other solution.”

He added: “Not respecting the principle of equality for all is the last straw.

“How can this happen in Spanish football, which claims to be the best league in the world, but in reality is a fool’s game.”

– Tebas says no –

Vidal predicted “a flood of complaints” from other clubs who felt similarly hard done by this “botched decision”.

However on Tuesday president of the Spanish football league Javier Tebas insisted that the final round of matches “will not be replayed”.

“Fuenlabrada made the trip (to Deportivo) because after the tests, all of those who had not tested positive travelled and were in perfect shape to play,” Tebas said to Deportes Cuatro. 

Monday’s game against Fuenlabrada has been rescheduled for July 30 after at least eight positive COVID-19 tests, including six players at the Madrid-based club.

Failing a successful appeal the delayed match is academic for Deportivo, but the encounter has wider significance.

Not least for Fuenlabrada, who could still reach the promotion play-offs for La Liga with at least a draw, at the expense of Elche, who are now left in limbo ahead of the rescheduled fixture.

“What do we do? Do we continue to train, or give the players two days off?” asked Elche manager ‘Pacheta’.

“We’re going to explode. We’ve been playing for the past two and a half months without a break,” added the former Spanish international.

Spanish media reports that after Monday’s postponement, the promotion play-off semi-finals will be moved to August 2 and 5, with the final to be held over two matches on August 8 and 11.

Huesca won the second division title on Monday, and will be joined by Cadiz in La Liga, where they will face the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

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