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.
Hi Gary agree with alot you said .Jon Walters having ago at krul forget to mention that spurs goalie moved off line for his save .How about this for an idea bottom 6 and top 6 from each div in da cup style draw play each other over two legs winners promoted losers relegated Liverpool get title and next 8 do same home away to decide European places just a thought ?
Isn’t September 1939 the template for what happens next?
A rather different scenario i that only three games had been played and as a result no team could really make a case that they had been disadvantaged by the cancellation in terms of their final position.
And I don’t suppose anyone complained too much once the dead were buried, troops repatriated and football resumed in 1946!
martin penney says
I think my old man was demobbed from the Royal Engineers in 1946 just in time to see his beloved West’Am kick off the season.
Or so he told me anyway.
Why not call this season finished ie. no promotions, relegations etc in all leagues but next season starts with all teams having the same points as they finished this season with so then this season would not be in vain. Both seasons points total added together so Liverpool start with the massive points advantage they have rightly earned and Norwich unfortunately but fairly start with a disadvantage….same in all the leagues
Obviously no system will be perfect but if the season can’t be finished then this way makes all the teams efforts count for something . Sorry Gary,I don’t agree with Piers Morgan on this one but mostly I do and I think he speaks for an awful lot of people who are fed up with today’s “I’m offended by everything snowflake society”
Jim Davies says
Interesting suggestion, though I can’t see it being a runner despite being the most practical idea I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, VAR will probably rule it out.
Jim Davies says
As an over-70 looking at four months incarceration, with the possibility of arrest if I stray out in public, according to the Health Minister today, I’ve no idea what the solution is, apart from what would appear to be the obvious one of voiding the current season. I’m not sure if this was exactly the “little miracle” that Daniel Farke had in mind, but it fits the bill.
As for Jonathon Walters, what a plonker! No hint of bias in his proposed solution – and Ipswich still wouldn’t get the chance of ending that run next season, as they’d still be struggling in League 1.
As it is, I just see a field day for the lawyers. My tip is buy shares in Netflix, there’s going to be a huge demand for box sets, with sport closed down.
Good idea Toni 1939 before my time don’t think martin can remember it either
It sets a judicial precedent so the lawyers will be led by that. No one faffed around about the lost games/season and those that do should feel ashamed.
Alex B says
Jon Walter’s must be fuming at his one time team mate Dyer saying how City is such a well run club compared to Ipshite.
I forget who suggested that Dirty Leeds and WBA get promoted with no relegation but his follow up was that at the end of next season 5 teams get relegated to bring it down to 20 teams again.
A leeds supporter said on Sky yes promotion is the aim but if the season is made void then everyone starts with a clean sheet next season, all European places would be the same as at the end of 2018/19 but Leicester would crow about this, there will be winners and losers which every solution is found.
Onwards and upwards
Keith B says
I cannot see any way of completing the fixtures unless they play matches behind closed doors, like it or not, and in the case of the PL make them available for live streaming via the clubs’ own websites. At least such matches can be scheduled at fairy short notice.
There would also need to be pressure brought to bear on the Premier League to help out the lower leagues by passing down a percentage of their TV income. Good luck with that one….
The idea of having a 22-team PL next year, with 4 teams relegated then, and also adjusting the Championship and below was something I had considered, and if they cannot find a way of completing the fixtures they may need to consider that. But it’s fraught with difficulties.
The only way I can see they could use a “part season’s” results is to decide the positions purely on the first game played between each team. It’s not entirely fair as the number of home and away games will not be exactly the same (except in League One due to Bury’s demise), and tough on anyone who has been on a good run recently.
John Mitchell says
My view is that it’s far too early to make a decision on this. We have little idea when football might be able to restart, whether it’s optimistically mid-May with fears largely assuaged and COVID-19 turned back, or pessimistically not until a fractured world has had months to recover some semblance of normality. Perhaps with many EFL clubs bankrupt. We don’t yet know what will happen to Euro 2020, moving perhaps to summer 21 or even to December 20 to permit two summer seasons before Qatar 22. Any decision must be discussed with countries across Europe too, there needs to be consistency and coordination. If 1939 is a precedent, it’s not the nascent 1939-40 football season, the voiding of which seems an obvious call given that only 3 rounds of fixtures were completed. The 1914 and 1939 County Championships were both abandoned late in the cricket season, with championships awarded to Surrey and Yorkshire respectively on the basis of the matches completed. But they were used to teams playing different numbers of games and in those days had no relegation to worry about.
1914 and 1939 only decided a Championship in cricket – you have 4 divisions to sort out so not applicable. It has to be September 1939 football season because what if the season had ended in October or December or February?? The analogy with 1914 and 1939 falls flat on its face then.
John Mitchell says
My point is simply that, even if the season is terminated without promotions or relegations, Liverpool should still be allowed to be add this title to their club history and, whenever they can next safely play in front of a full home crowd, show off the trophy. Just as Man City should be allowed to keep the League Cup they’ve already won and paraded round Wembley. That’s all the precedent is intended to mean. A season where one club is 25 points clear and 99.99% likely to be champions is hardly comparable to one that ends after 3 games.
I can’t think of a suitable precedent for promotion and relegation. I just don’t see why that should be decided so immediately when we have very little idea how long the suspension will last.
In the context that I think that the April deadline will be greatly extended and it will not be possible to finish the season. …
Fro me a 22-team Premier League for next season, while also acknowledging the difficulties. Plus:
1. League Cup to go ahead as normal (no replays).
2. FA cup to be picked up where it left off this season (QF) (again no replays), which between the two cups should (more or less and only partly) make up for the extra four Premier League cup games per team.
3. Sorry, but Liverpool must be awarded the Premier League trophy in the same was a Leeds and WBA would be promoted.
Sounds like a cunning plan Baldrick!
It’s has to be September 1939 that is the relevant legal precedent!
Bet Hitler did not realise that his malign influence would be impacting on the destination of the Premier League title in 2020!