FC Groningen have officially been relegated from the Eredivisie following their 1-1 draw at Go Ahead Eagles on Sunday. The club were last absent from the Dutch top flight 24 years ago, and having picked up just 18 points so far this season, they’re back in the Eerste Divisie. Club captain Mads Bech Sørensen has since apologised to supporters, saying ‘We need to be better than this and learn from our mistakes.’
Groningen got off to a fast start during Sunday’s decisive match. Within six minutes they’d taken the lead through Ricardo Pepi. Less than half an hour later, Go Ahead Eagles midfielder Willum Willumsson delivered the sucker punch, making it 1-1. Dennis van der Ree’s side needed a victory to have had any chance at staying up.
Speaking to ESPN after the game, Sørensen, who joined Groningen on loan from Brentford in January, said ‘It hurts a lot, of course it hurts a lot. I want to apologise to the fans and that’s it. We are all disappointed and have a bad feeling.’ When asked about the lessons to be learned from the past few months, the 24-year-old Danish defender said ‘We should have stuck together as a team. Everyone has to help each other. We need to be better than this and learn from our mistakes. We are very disappointed.’
Groningen have lost seven of their last 10 league games. Their three remaining fixtures are against Ajax, Vitesse and Sparta Rotterdam. Once the season has ended, current captain Mads Bech Sørensen will return to his parent club, Brentford, and on-loan top scorer Ricardo Pepi will return to Augsburg. The Groningen squad will certainly require a reshuffle heading into next season.