After it was officially announced that the Premier League is suspended until next month, key officials will now be planning the best conclusion to the situation.
Naturally, certain things are out of their control. Will UEFA postpone or cancel EURO 2020? Will the coronavirus numbers dip to suggest public safety can be assured to a high enough level?
All these things will no doubt contribute to the decision made next month with the intention being to resume the league from April 4 onwards, but with the disruption to the initial schedule, there could be four options on the table.
These four options have initially been touted in Italy, with Serie A confirming earlier this month that they had decided to postpone all fixtures.
As seen in Gabriel Marcotti’s tweet below, they revolve round three very different ideas…
Vacant title, assign Euro spots & no relegation
This is of course a nightmare scenario for Liverpool fans, and the club will no doubt have something to say if this is what is eventually decided upon.
The European qualification spots will be assigned as per the current standings, while there would be no relegated teams and perhaps the total number of clubs in the Premier League would increase to allow lucrative promotions from the Championship.
With Leeds Utd and West Brom closing in on promotion, they will undoubtedly make their case to return to the top flight.
Season ends based on current standings
On the flip side of that, the second option mooted in Italy is to simply assign the title and relegation based on the current table.
That suits Liverpool just fine as they’ll secure a long-awaited Premier League trophy, although imagine telling Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City that they’re down with nine games left to be played. They certainly won’t accept it and the league could end up facing legal action.
Not to mention the likes of Man Utd, Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal still hoping to secure Champions League football next season and the huge financial boost that comes with it.
Playoffs for title/relegation
This could be the most entertaining option for fans, but it still ultimately comes with its own pitfalls and shortcomings.
Those still in mathematical contention for the title go head-to-head or perhaps it’s opened up to include a certain number of teams in a knockout tournament, although with a 25-point lead as things stand, why would Liverpool agree to it?
The same applies for the relegation battle with those being dragged into the picture. In terms of generating money and entertainment, the Premier League could see this as a viable option, but again, it won’t necessarily appeal to all the clubs involved.
Wait it out, complete the season
This of course again depends on the impact of coronavirus beyond this month, and the impact such a dramatic change to the domestic fixture schedule would have on next season and other competitions as well as waiting on UEFA to decide on EURO 2020.
Nevertheless, if the opportunity is there to complete the season with an extended campaign over the summer, that is surely going to be seen as the fairest way for all concerned.
Time will tell if that is possible, and how long the relevant bodies can wait to make that decision. Perhaps the decision to suspend all football until April is just a way of buying some time to come up with a better solution and to get a better idea of how long the effects of coronavirus will be felt in the UK.
Italian FA mulling 3 options based on when/if situation allows Serie A to start again.
1. Declare title vacant, assign Euro spots based on current standings, no relegation
2. Season over, title/relegation based on table
3. Playoffs for title/relegation
(rooting for 3 myself)
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) March 10, 2020