The creaks are rising and football means nothing. Nada. But there will come a time again when it does. It may not feel like it right now… but it will.
And when it eventually resumes, or well before then in fact, there are some massive decisions to be made by those in the corridors of power.
The provisional aim is that domestic football resumes on 3rd/4th April but the odds of that happening must be sandwiched somewhere between those of Stuart Webber demanding that Farkeball be replaced by Dycheball and Ipswich fans conceding that an FA Cup win in 1852 has little relevance on the football of 2020.
Not happening is it.
Even with the inevitability of Euro 2020 being slid one year to June 2021, the likelihood of this creating enough space for the domestic programme to be completed by June 30 appears very slim.
And even if it were squeezed in within that timescale, what of next season? For it to be slipped two months, then implicates the Euros one year hence.
There is no solution that will tick every box and the only folk are going to win here are the lawyers who will inevitably be called into action by clubs who have come out the wrong side of any decision.
Of course, for far too many reasons to list, it would be mildly amusing if Liverpool were denied their first title since 1990 but given the size of their lead at the top of the Premier League, it would take a Manchester United supporter to not feel even a tinge of sympathy if Covid-19 does to their title hopes in 2020 what Steven Gerrard did in 2015.
But, it appears not to be a given that they’ll be handed the trophy and there are already Canary fans calling the potential for it to occur, karma for the role the Merseysiders played in City missing out on European football in 1985.
Best not go there.
But, what this uncertainty has done is give every ex-pro, wannabee pundit, actual pundit, journo and Joe Bloggs the chance to espouse a theory as to how season 2019/20 can best be concluded.
Some ideas are crazy, some are designed purely to get clicks and some have, on the face of it, legs. Here are just a few. You decide which is which;
Jonathan Walters: Let’s just stop the nonsense of having matches being played behind closed doors. 1. Give Liverpool the title by default 2. Swap Norwich with Leeds Everyone is happy! What do we think?
Obviously, Walters has never forgiven Hucks for leaving one on him in the 2004 derby at Carrow Road and has taken every opportunity since to take sly and not-so-sly digs at City. And now he’s in the Beeb’s C-team of pundits, those opportunities are slightly greater in number, and have included a very recent slight on our Tim’s penalty saving technique. So, it was no surprise that his first instinct was to rip everyone’s sides with an anti-Norwich theory.
It was a ‘gag’ he repeated for three consecutive days before his agent reminded him that his future as a pundit may be better served to come up with something that has a modicum of reality.
Alas, the best he could offer was…
If the Coronavirus spreads… We should just cancel the Premier League and start afresh next season. What do we all think? …You can’t play matches behind closed doors. Football is what it is because of the fans and without them, the game isn’t the same.
Brilliant Jon. One of football’s great minds.
But, he’s far from alone in concluding the plug should be pulled. I give you another great mind of our generation…
Karren Brady: Premier League season should be declared void.
Obviously, the fact Ms Brady is no neutral arbiter and that her beloved West Ham are hovering perilously close the relegation zone slightly dilutes her thoughts on this matter but, out of the blue, an online knight in shining armour, armed with a big mouth, a ginormous ego and all the tools needed to hack a phone, came riding to her rescue…
Piers Morgan: Why is @karren_brady getting slaughtered for saying this? There’s no chance of this season being completed so the ONLY fair thing to do under such completely unprecedented circumstances is to cancel it & start again in August.
So there it is… the man who apparently says what we’re all thinking has said it. Job done, right?
Except, he doesn’t. Rarely ever. At least not from my perspective. Although, clearly, from a selfish City perspective, the gospels according to Jon, Karren and Piers do have a certain appeal. At least more than the one according to Oliver…
Oliver Holt: If resumption is not possible, freeze the league tables as they are now, give Liverpool the title, send Norwich, Villa, and Bournemouth down and promote Leeds as champions.
Naturally, the Daily Mail’s finest took some fairly heavy flak for his poorly thought through theory, typically from those who’d be adversely affected by his oddly crude take on such a massively contentious issue – odd because, usually, his thoughts on the game are well worth listening to.
Villa, with a game in hand on all those around them due to having made it to the Carabao Cup final would, understandably and rightly, go ballistic.
So, this one is daft, isn’t it? Anything that constitutes a lawyer’s wet dream is, by definition, questionable. And this definitely fits that particular bill.
But, among the silliness, the idea of a 22-team Premier League – one that admittedly would benefit City – has emerged as potentially the solution of sound mind and reason.
Kavel Solhekol (Sky Sports): Give title to Liverpool, no relegation, promote West Brom & Leeds and have 22-team Premier League next season. The best option if this season doesn’t re-start.
Of course, this one won’t get anywhere either without being pawed over by many exorbitantly-priced legal minds, not least by the teams currently in the play-off places of the Championships, and, for those that seem to have forgotten, there are three other divisions in the Football League who will, quite rightly, demand equal treatment.
The Premier League creates monsters of all those it touches – that I’ve spent 800 words talking about the Premier League and have only just thought to mention those outside the top flight kind of proves it. Sorry.
But, that 22-team PL is one that’s gaining traction and for a better description of how that could potentially work, I recommend this piece from the Telegraph (there is a paywall but there’s also a 30-day free trial).
There are other theories to be had, and with plenty of time on his hands, the presenter of Match of the Day had his own say…
Gary Lineker: If things escalate as anticipated and no more football is played, we could bring back the pools panel to decide all the results for the rest of the season. Just don’t put me on the panel.
Daft maybe, but still better than that poor effort from the BBC Sport intern, Walters.
So… what do you reckon?
And while you’re thinking about it, stay safe, care for those less fortunate and more vulnerable, and try not to panic.