The Football Association (FA) have told Premier League clubs that the 2019-20 season must be concluded by way of sporting merit, which potentially splits the six bottom clubs over how they plan on finishing the season.
This latest news development means issues like relegation, top four and the title must be settled by either playing the remaining fixtures, or a mathematical formula based on games played, with a weighted points-per-game also being considered.
Declaring the season null and void, which was heavily criticised when West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady offered that as a potential solution offered that as a potential solution in March, is not an option.
The announcement also marked the first time that potentially ending the season was discussed at a top-flight meeting, though that remains a contingency plan for now – the primary aim is to complete the fixture list, but many clubs have voted against playing in neutral venues as a compromise.
This morning, official figures have surpassed 40,000 UK coronavirus deaths – with almost 10,000 care home residents dying from COVID-19. The stats cement the UK as Europe’s worst-affected country.
All would naturally prefer to play their games in the restarted season at home, although it’s not a feasible solution right now. Those most affected are the clubs fighting to stave off relegation, as that home advantage, playing on their familiar own pitch – even behind closed doors – could prove the difference between winning and losing points.
It doesn’t really impact most of the top clubs this term, as Liverpool would be crowned champions while teams in the Champions League positions wouldn’t change either.
Bournemouth, Aston Villa (played a game fewer) and Norwich City are currently in the relegation zone and if the season was decided by a mathematical formula being used, all three clubs would drop into next year’s EFL Championship.
As reported by the Standard today, London mayor Sadiq Khan has opposed the Premier League’s plan to resume in the capital from next month onwards – believing it’s too soon.
England’s top-flight are planning to resume by June 12, although two of the bottom six sides – 16th-placed West Ham, Watford in 17th – are based in or around London areas.
Nearly a third of remaining fixtures (27 of 92) are scheduled to be played there, should the league endeavour to resume with teams playing both at home and away as normal.
According to the Daily Mail, some Premier League players will inform their coaches via video call today they are unprepared to return to training as planned next Monday.
As I reported on May 1, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is among the players who have expressed concerns about a premature return. West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini and most recently, Newcastle fullback Danny Rose spoke of his disapproval.
With all things considered, it’s unclear when the 2020-21 season will begin and whether promotion-chasing sides in the second tier will be rewarded with a PL berth either.
The FA’s announcement means there are two possibilities: either play out the season behind closed doors, or settle it in another manner – one that remains fair based on previous results this season.