There’s still much uncertainty in the soccer world in the wake of coronavirus but while games have stopped, organizers are trying to figure out how (or if) they can fit the rest of the season in. The English soccer world, with cooperation from The FA, Premier League, and the EFL is building a framework for potentially starting things back up.
As a result, it’s been announced that the current season will be extended “indefinitely” and that the current season for both men’s and women’s soccer will finish before the next season begins. In addition, the earliest games can be played in England is April 30 but that’s not exactly set in stone and could be extended depending on future developments.
The European soccer structure has been a disorganized mess since games were suspended. Don’t get me wrong, suspending games was totally the right move, but because the soccer season is jam packed with games and there’s barely any room to reschedule, no one was prepared for a situation like this and are now trying to figure it out as they go.
Unlike American sports leagues where they get to make decisions, soccer in a country like England is like trying to spin a bunch of plates at the same time. In total, five different soccer groups are involved in England including FIFA (international competitions and the 2021 Club World Cup), UEFA (Champions/Europa League and Euros), FA (FA Cup), EFL (Football League and EFL Cup) and the Premier League. So trying to get everyone on the same page is near impossible.
As a result, some things have been altered. In order to buy the domestic leagues more time to complete their current leagues, Euro 2020 has been moved to 2021 and UEFA is considering doing single elimination instead of two legs for the rest of the Champions/Europa League tournament.
So what does this mean for the Premier League itself? It means that no matter how long it takes and if it bleeds into what would be next season, this season would be finished first. It hasn’t been revealed what would happen in terms of players out of contract in the summer or the transfer season but the season is getting finished at some point. The reason it’s important to finish the season at some point is that there would be a lot of legal issues to figure out if it wasn’t.
If the league just ended and awarded places based on current standings, Manchester City could claim they still had a chance (albeit very unlikely) to beat Liverpool for the Premier League title. In addition, if City’s Champions League ban goes through, that means Manchester United would get the final CL spot. That wouldn’t sit well with Sheffield United who are only two points behind and have a game in hand over Man United. Sheffield could argue they also deserve the final spot. Same applies for the bottom of the table. Aston Villa sit 19th but are two points behind three teams with a game in hand. If Villa wins that, they’re out of relegation and that’s a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars.
On the flipside, if the league became “null and void,” Liverpool could make an argument that after leading by 25 points, they should have the title. Also, if the league is nullified, the Premier League is legally within their right to not give teams prize money which should be a motivating factor for all 20 teams to make sure the season is completed. Not to mention, it would be a bit of a rip that fans spent all this money going to a couple hundred Premier League games just to find out that they didn’t mean anything.
No one is minimizing the coronavirus pandemic and ultimately that’s most important, but a contingency plan needed to be figured out and it’s probably best to have a contingency plan on the contingency plan in case things get worse. If next season is going to be affected, then next season is going to be affected but whenever this season gets to continue, it’ll be to finish out the current season so at least the powers that be have figured that out.
[Premier League/Photo: Getty Images]