Since the Coronavirus caused the Premier League to suspend all matches until the fourth of April, there has been much uncertainty as to how the season will finish. Many options have now arisen. What are they, how would they work and how fair are they? What is next for the Premier League?
What is Next for the Premier League?
Declare it Null and Void
One of the most popular suggestions is to declare the season null and void, or invalid. While those who dislike Liverpool joke that they should not get to win the title, after being so agonisingly close, it is a serious option, especially with Covid-19 not looking as if it will slow down and a source having said that ‘there is a 75% chance the season will not be completed’. The Premier League’s suspension is a minimum, and there is a high chance that it will receive an extension. With that in mind, and other competitions also having to be completed, a void season could be the best option.
What Would Decide European Qualification?
If the league were to use this option, the likelihood is that the 2018/19 season’s standings would determine how we go into 2020/21. It would almost be as if we were erasing the 2019/20 season from history, making it completely null.
Would This Work?
This option is by no means flawless. Teams like Sheffield United, who have completely overperformed in 2019/20 would have a lot of their work undone. Liverpool, who have had an almost flawless Premier League campaign, would also be distraught if this were to occur. Furthermore, prize money makes up a large amount of a team’s cash balance, but without that, at least done fairly, many could struggle. Despite these issues, declaring the 2019/20 season null and void could be the best option for a coronavirus-hit world.
What is Next for the Premier League: Keeping the Current Standings
The second option should the Coronavirus prevent the 2019/20 season from continuing, we could keep the current standings. While it is not as good of an option as declaring the season null, it still has its benefits. For example, it would allow Liverpool to win their first-ever Premier League title. Despite this, there are many ways in which this option would not work.
Unfair to Some Teams
This option could be quite controversial. Four teams have played one less than the others as the Carabao Cup final caused their matches’ postponement. It is unclear how their game in hand would count towards the final standings if this were to happen. Furthermore, Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford would go down to the Championship, very unfairly. They would not have the opportunity to escape the relegation zone, making this option, perhaps the worst of the three.
What is Next for the Premier League: Continuing After the Virus’ Containment
While nobody knows how long it will take to contain the coronavirus, it is probable that it will have reached its peak sometime before September. With its severity having significantly died down, the Premier League may be able to restart some time in the late spring or early summer. While an April restart seems unlikely, it is not impossible, and if this were to happen we would almost certainly continue the Premier League season with weekend and midweek games. If football made its return later, however, there are other ways in which the season could be completed.
How Would It Work?
With minimal time to finish the final nine (ten for four teams) matches of the season, many have tried to suggest how this might work. The most popular of these is to hold playoffs for Champions League qualification and relegation. Liverpool would win the league as they have a vast gap over second-placed Manchester City, who would not compete, with them banned from European football for the next two years.
Would This Work?
While this seems the fairest of the options, with teams who have played well still rewarded, it may not be possible. As previously mentioned, it is unlikely that we will not see the return of the Premier League any time before next season. Despite this, provided the coronavirus dies down enough for the league’s resumption to be safe, having a playoff would surely be the best option.