With the Covid-19 virus sweeping across the world, soccer has taken something of a backseat in recent weeks.
Across the world, leagues have been suspended and there is uncertainty as to how they’ll finish. With several options available to governing bodies, no one solution seems entirely favorable.
That’s never been more evident than in the Premier League in England, the richest football division in the world. With so much at stake, The Express explains how there’s a real intention of finishing the current campaign before moving on, but in the grip of a pandemic that might not be so easy.
The champions-elect are Liverpool who are a whopping 25 points clear of their closest challengers in Manchester City and looking on course to secure their first-ever Premier League title win. Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions are currently second, four points clear of Leicester City with a game in hand.
Between them, Man City and Liverpool certainly have a dominant grip on the top two spots. Bwin reveals that Manchester City had the most prolific partnership in the Premier League up until February in De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus, which has kept them ahead of the chasing clubs. It has not been enough to match Liverpool’s excellent season, which has been the product of a varied approach in which no two or three players have stood out. With such disparity between the Reds and the rest of the division, any method of ending the season by which they don’t get the title seems unfair.
The big issue is consistency. If the league was stopped now and Liverpool was given the title, it would mean relegation for Bournemouth, one of four sides separated by just two points. Whilst the situation at the top is relatively clear, at the bottom it is clouded, and any decision must consider all clubs in the hunt for some sort of honors. Other members of the Big Six in the Premier League are battling for places in European competitions and they will certainly want to see some conclusion to their efforts, one way or another. For instance, Manchester United and Chelsea are locked in a battle for the last Champions League spot. Despite losing Hazard last season, Chelsea has managed to remain a top-four team and is on course to return to the Champions League. However, being only 3 points behind, United will believe they can also make a final push for a top-four spot.
One of the league’s strengths is the amount of TV money it attracts and that may well edge it towards a conclusion of sorts. Voiding the season would cost those companies huge sums, which means some sort of resumption is likely. talkSPORT reports that resuming behind closed doors is a viable option, especially now Euro 2020 has been moved to accommodate longer domestic seasons.
That would allow companies to fulfill their contracts with viewers and ensure clubs were able to complete their season. Whilst that may be the intention in the top division, how that filters down through the rest of England’s league structure is unclear. If the division below becomes null and void, could the likes of Norwich City be the first team to finish in the bottom three of the top flight and not be relegated?
There are other options available, such as awarding clubs points based on their points per game haul so far, but some would argue that devalues any hard work a club has put in if they’re improved over the course of the season. Certainly, whatever option the Premier League take will seem unfair on some clubs, whether it’s amongst their ranks or those knocking on the door to come in from the division below.