New Dutch football season starts Sept 12 with FC Utrecht vs AZ

The Eredivisie season will kick off at 4:30 p.m. on September 12 with FC Utrecth vs AZ Alkmaar at Utrecht's home Stadium Galgenwaard, Dutch football association KNVB announced on Wednesday. Top rivalry matches between Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord and PSV are only scheduled after the winter break, in the hope that more fans will then be able to attend matches by then.

Ajax-PSV is the first top match scheduled for January 10. PSV-AZ is on the program three days later, and the first classic of the season will be Ajax-Feyenoord on January 17. 

Playoff matches will be one-leg matches, instead of two-leg matches. All clubs will have at least one home match at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday. This year the KNVB also asked smaller clubs to submit which matches they would prefer to play later in the season, so many derbies are only scheduled after the winter break. 

Jan Bluyssen of the KNVB called this program an unprecedented puzzle. "We knew that making the season's fixtures would be difficult, with more obstacles than in previous years and more than 200 requests from the 18 Eredivisie clubs alone," he said in a statement. "We worked out all scenarios to play out the competitions and asked all parties for maximum flexibility. In the end we succeeded in getting all the top matches between Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord and PSV as late as possible. Hopefully we can play in full stadiums again."

Strict coronavirus measures currently apply in stadiums and for the clubs. Supporters must keep 1.5 meters apart, so in most cases stadiums can only fill up to about a third of their capacity. Supporters will not be allowed to sing or chant, though in the past, officials have said that will be difficult to enforce.

There will be constant coronavirus testing in the football clubs. And teams will allow other clubs to use their stadiums in the event of regional lockdowns. There will also be no Johan Cruijff tournament this year - a competition that usually kicks off the Eredivisie season.