It’s looking increasingly likely that the footballs governing bodies will have no option but to conclude the season’s Premier League fixtures behind closed doors.
With the Covid 19 virus sending most countries into lockdown and with the weeks slipping by, there appears to be no other option.
It’s better than a complete void which had been suggested given but given that Liverpool currently sit 25 points clear at the top ahead of nearest teams like Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea, it would be immensely unfair and would leave too many loose ends.
It would also be entirely unfair to other clubs like PSG, Juventus or Bayern Munich that find themselves leaders of leagues, that have done well in competitions or are seeking promotion like Leeds United or West Bromwich Albion.
If July is the start date, it’s improbable that a new season would start straight away in August and the usual pre season games would be the first casualty of these unpredictable and unusual times.
As the days pass, out of all the options the ‘behind closed doors’ route looks to be the most likely because it will allow the football calendar to remain almost intact.
The other realistic option is to continue with global football in July, complete the season and recommence a new season the following year, meaning that the game would have ghost season that never took place.
This type of blueprint would mean a total remodelling of a football season including when it commences and ends which is a logistical nightmare and it will no doubt impact on European competitions and the impending Euro which have now been postponed to 2021..
Football has never faced such problems with so much to realign in a global sense and perhaps the only benefits of this entire outbreak is that it will temporarily silence the voices calling for a European super league and preserve our own domestic league in the process.
The game is on its head and may have to face involuntary restructuring to cope with the fall out.
Suggestions that the premier league could be concluded in six weeks seems rash and would be like trying to wrap a gift with slices of bread.
Most the Premier League teams like Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham have another 9 fixtures remaining while Manchester City are the only club with 10 fixtures left to play. According to the report, this would see the campaign end by a target date of July 11.
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It would just be an exercise to conclude the programme as quickly as possible to move on to a new and lucrative season.
I feel desperately sorry for Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players who have performed so well to end Liverpool’s 30 wait for a title.
However this season concludes, it has been undervalued and tarnished to some degree but whatever the final decision they must be crowned Premier League champions.
I doubt there’s anyone who thinks that they wouldn’t have continued to excel domestically and even if the FA pulled down curtain on the season, they would be worthy winners.
Footballs governing bodies will have been involved in ongoing conversations since the virus outbreak and they are seeking the simplest and least disruptive option. Major Premier clubs Like Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham are said to have unanimously elected to finish the present season first before thinking of starting the next.
Manchester United, meanwhile, have reiterated their commitment to completing the current season and have informed season ticket holders they can expect a pro-rata rebate or refund if matches are cancelled or unable to be scheduled in front of a live audience.
A statement issued by the club read :
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “The club fully supports the collective intent to complete the Premier League, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA club competitions,” a statement read on the club’s official website. “However, if it were decided that games cannot be played, or needed to be played behind closed doors, Manchester United confirms it will offer season ticket holders either a pro-rata rebate against their season tickets for next year, or a pro-rata cash refund based on the number of games still to be played” [/perfectpullquote]
With the game so intertwined with European competitions and internationals there’s a lot to undo in many respects and depending on how the virus continues, there’s an outside chance that all European competitions will be suspended until such time that it’s safe to travel between borders, although the governing bodies will be reluctant to shelve the Champions league which has become the Jewell in the crown.
The next three or four weeks will be crucial to the future of the game and how it proceeds but football will return, in what format and when that remains to be seen.