Freezing the Premier League until the virus dissipates, cancelling the season altogether, instigating playoffs or using an aggregate system have all been suggested as the Covid-19 virus threatens to decimate the season or take it beyond its current calendar boundaries.
How long the ban lasts is probably key to how this situation develops and eventually pans out, but whatever route the FA eventually takes, there’s a sense of growing injustice.
Imagine that there is a situation at the bottom of the Premier League where one club is mathematically relegated but, there are six candidates that potentially face relegation. They could face a playoff and whatever the results, someone will feel aggrieved because the season wasn’t allowed to play out in a natural and normal way.
Vice-chairman of West Ham United, Baroness Karren Brady, suggested that the current football season should be cancelled and subsequently rendered null and void. Brady’s thoughts would be welcomed by West Ham fans, who are desperate to confirm their Premier League status for another season, but it would be unfair if clubs weren’t allowed to somehow decide their own fate. In a separate issue, I wish the West Ham fans had given her the title of Lady, purely because Lady Brady is more fun.
Of course, cancellation remains a possibility, but as long as Liverpool are permitted to be crowned champions by default. Liverpool has been the best team by a mile, far ahead of its nearest competitors like Manchester City or Leicester City and even under the circumstances, they should be granted the title they have earned and deserved.
What happens for teams like Arsenal, Tottenham, Wolves still mathematically in the chase for a top-four spot or Champions League? Another playoff?
At this early stage in the crisis, it’s hard to say but many clubs big or small like Chelsea, Manchester United or West Ham will take a financial hit from any decision that comes from Lancaster square. More important than the money is the status of remaining in the Premier League and that shouldn’t be decided in a knee jerk reaction or by the flip of a coin like people do in a casino.
From an Arsenal perspective, the club will hope that the league continues after an enforced lay off, but again, the impact throughout the sport will require the collaboration of FIFA and the FA to guarantee the best possible outcome and that seems unlikely.
Arsenal will want to play out their remaining games in the hope that they can qualify for the Champions League ahead of the likes of Tottenham, Wolves or even Manchester United and thus attract new faces in the summer. The additional revenue would be welcome but it’s not a priority at present.
Another suggestion is that the season picks up from where it left off, which is spectacularly pointless with Liverpool so dominant. That’s certainly as bad as an aggregate points system. Perhaps, the season could commence earlier than usual with a shorter league format for the following term.
I’d much rather play the games behind closed doors than see an extended season or playoffs. It’s bad enough that the magnificently flawed VAR is now part of the game without undermining the campaign with another ill-conceived format.
A word of warning, the FA tends to do what’s right by themselves, so if there is an opportunity to make up for a cash shortfall, the FA will take it above most other considerations.
According to the statement released by FA on March 19, the football suspension has been extended till at least 30th April. Moreover, the Football Association has also confirmed that the current season can be ‘extended indefinitely’. They said that their priority is to resume and complete the ongoing 2019-20 season.
The truth is that any plan after April 30, will have to be formulated in the coming weeks with another two possible scenarios for the immediate and long term future.
Once that’s concluded, clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and others can start to look forward to reuniting with their fans and continuing with their Premier League campaign. It can’t come quickly enough.