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Eredivisie adds new kick-off time at Fox request

There will be a new kick-off time in the Dutch Eredivisie next season at the request of the league domestic rights-holder, pay television broadcaster Fox Sports.

The Netherlands’ top-tier football league has added a Saturday 4.30pm kick-off time for the 2020-21 season. All clubs will have one home match at that time during what was described as a pilot project by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB).

The KNVB said that the new kick-off time has been introduced following requests from Fox Sports and the Eredivisie and “in consultation with all clubs”.

Supporters groups have hit out at the new kick-off time and claimed that in some cases clubs did not consult with their fans.

Fox Sports holds broadcast rights for the Eredivisie in a 12-season deal running from 2013-14 to 2024-25, worth an average guaranteed sum of €80m ($92.7m) per season.

Local reports suggest that plans for Sunday and Monday matches in the new season were rejected, therefore Fox wanted to spread kick-off times over the league’s matches over Saturday.

The league has designated AZ Alkmaar as a top team, along with Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, which means AZ will not play at the same time as those three clubs, and will not play on a Friday in the new scheduling.

AZ will play the opening match of the Eredivisie, on September 12, at the newly-created Saturday 4.30pm kick-off time.

The league has also said that it has scheduled all matches between Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord and PSV as late as possible in the season, in order so they can hopefully be played with full stadiums. Other clubs were also asked which two matches they would also like to be scheduled later in the season, with the league claiming that every club has “has at least one preference”.

In April, it was reported that Fox had agreed to pay the final tranche of €22m for the 2019-20 season, but this was on the league not unilaterally cancelling the season’s remaining matches due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which it eventually did in April.