There are different scenarios doing the rounds as to how the Premier League will continue or end with the current coronavirus pandemic. The league has been suspended for now leaving how it will continue or end a big mystery. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
There are different scenarios doing the rounds as to how the Premier League will continue or end with the current coronavirus pandemic. The league has been suspended for now leaving how it will continue or end a big mystery. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

So, just how will they find a way to keep all of football happy?

By Daily Mail Time of article published Mar 15, 2020

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OPTION 1

ABANDON THE LEAGUE

Champions: None Relegated: None

Write the whole thing off — all those 29 games played count for nothing. Scrap the lot and start again from scratch when the coast is clear.

This was proposed by West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady. Her opinion was in no way influenced by the Hammers sitting outside the relegation zone on goal difference!

Such a nuclear option is the last resort and nowhere near as simple as just pulling the plug, even if it avoids dealing with the unknown of when football will be safe to play again.

Putting the possible riots in Merseyside aside, the decision to call it all off early will have huge financial and legal ramifications.

Leeds have spent an awful lot of money in their attempt to win promotion from the Championship, now with nothing to show for it. Not quite as much money as Sky and BT have paid for the rights to show matches that now won’t be played.

And what about the money fans pay to Sky and BT to watch those matches?

Will fans be able to claim compensation on their season tickets? What happens with the Champions League and qualification? What about those National League sides such as Barrow who are on the verge of returning to the Football League, only for the drawbridge to be pulled up?

It sounds a simple fix. In reality, it’s anything but. No wonder the Premier League is trying to do all it can not to press the big red button.

Pros: Decisive

Cons: Unsatisfactory with legal and financial issues

OPTION 2

PLAY SEASON TO A FINISH HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES

Champions: Liverpool (probably) Relegated: The bottom three

This is what the Premier League want: the most desirable of all outcomes. Wait it out. Hope the virus fizzles out and, eventually, whenever it is, restart the season and finish it off and then get the next one underway.

For this to happen, the Euros this summer will have to be postponed — as they are expected to be — to give time for the leagues to finish.

There are problems here too: who knows when football will be ready to be replayed, how players’ fitness and health will have been affected, and out-of-contract stars will have to renegotiate short-term deals beyond June 30, which is when deals usually expire.

Also, when does the next season start?

Pros: All matches played, fair result

Cons: Unknown time frame, next season logjam

OPTION 3

END THE SEASON WITH LIVERPOOL AS CHAMPIONS

Champions: Liverpool Relegated: Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Norwich

Call an end to the season now and freeze the positions as they are. Liverpool are crowned champions and the current bottom three — Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth — are relegated.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson (right) would lift the title his club deserves. Only seven teams in Premier League history to be top on March 13, the day the League was suspended, have failed to go on to capture the title and none has spurned anywhere near as much as a 25-point lead.

The clubs who are at the bottom are in the position they deserve to be, or so the argument goes. Villa have a game in hand, though, but would still be in the relegation zone if you decided it on points per game. However, if they do this, don’t expect the relegated clubs to go down without a fight.

The Premier League are likely to face legal action from those clubs for breaching their own competition rules.

Had the season ended at this stage in 2014-15, Leicester would have been relegated, leaving no room for future miracles.

And what then happens with the Championship? Leeds and West Bromwich Albion would earn promotion but who gets the place reserved for the play-off winners?

All the financial issues for broadcasters, sponsors and fans still apply.

Pros: Decisive, clubs rewarded for success

Cons: Even more legal issues with relegated clubs

OPTION 4

NO RELEGATION, EXPAND THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Champions: Liverpool Relegated: None

Call it a day, give Liverpool the title, but don’t relegate anyone. Instead, expand the Premier League. This way you don’t face the wrath of Liverpool fans or legal challenges from the relegated clubs or Leeds and West Brom. Do the same all the way down the divisions.

There is a slight precedent here. Chile abandoned their top division last season in the face of violent anti-government protests. Universidad Catolica, who were leading by 13 points in October, were declared the champions. No one went down and the two leading teams from the second division were promoted. This season has been played with 18 teams instead of 16.

Here’s how it could work: promote the teams in the automatic places of the Championship, League One and Two and the top three from the National League.

The Premier League would have 22 teams next season. To restore normality for the following campaign, either relegate five from the Premier League or, if that is too many, make it four down and scrap the Championship play-offs. The other divisions should play out as usual.

Here’s how next season might look…

Pros: Fair, promoted clubs happy, avoid legal issues over relegation

Cons: Unhappy play-off contenders, complicated

Daily Mail

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