While football is far from the most important thing right now, you can forgive Liverpool fans for being a little on edge as they face the prospect of missing out on the Premier League title in the most cruel and bizarre way possible.
The Reds took an unprecedented 25-point lead at the top of the table before the season had to be postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, with Jurgen Klopp’s side agonisingly just two wins away from being confirmed as champions for the first time in 30 years.
Since then, however, there has been some talk that the season may not be finished at all, which could lead to all results and standings being declared null and void, effectively meaning that when we return to football, this season will officially have never happened.
That seems a rather unnecessary response to the crisis, grave as it is, given that the season was at such an advanced stage before it had to be stopped.
There may be significant hope for Liverpool, however, as a report from the Independent highlights five key reasons that there is a very strong push for the 2019/20 campaign to be completed at some point.
Most clubs against it
According to the Independent, the ‘vast majority’ of clubs are not only against the prospect of voiding the season, but are in fact ‘desperate’ to get the campaign done.
This is significant as any decision to void the season would require a two thirds majority of teams to vote for it, so 14 out of the 20 sides in the Premier League. Liverpool can seemingly relax for now as this report suggests those numbers simply aren’t there.
A big reason for clubs’ motivation to continue is financial, and we all know that money talks in football.
As noted by the Independent, top flight clubs face losing as much as £1.2bn if the season is voided, largely due to owing money back to TV broadcasters.
This has also been reported by the Daily Mail, who claim, in a slightly surprising twist, that clubs hope they may even be able to resume the season in early May in a bid to complete all the required fixtures by a deadline of July 16, which is when they would then be contractually obliged to fork out huge sums back to the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sports over being unable to fulfil the games those companies paid for.
EFL backing needed
The Independent also state that even if the Premier League did vote in favour of voiding the season, it would require backing from the entire English Football League (EFL) to go ahead and do so.
The report explains that there is very strong interest from the EFL in ensuring they can complete the season, as there remains the very real threat that as many as 45 clubs could go out of business if they can’t.
As well as Liverpool fans being nervous, one imagines the likes of Leeds and West Brom will be eager to get the chance to win what looks likely promotion from the Championship to the top flight. It seems unthinkable that they would vote to throw that opportunity away.
The Independent also note that there are concerns over the integrity of the competition if the season is voided, particularly as the nature of the coronavirus crisis suggests the very real possibility that next season could also face delays and disruptions.
If results from the 2019/20 campaign so far are all wiped from the record books, it would be seen as breaking something quite fundamental about fans’ relationships with the game, and that could be hugely damaging to the brand for a long time.
Worst case scenario…
These four issues suggest the season is highly unlikely to be voided, but even if it is, LFC fans may have a fifth reason to be optimistic, according to the author of the piece, Miguel Delaney, via his official Twitter account.
It is not quite clear how certain the reporter is on this, but he has suggested that even if the season were to be voided, there would be a special vote on whether or not to acknowledge Liverpool as champions anyway…
Exactly. And if they voided it, the likelihood is there would be a vote to give an acknowledgement to Liverpool. It’s beyond that where it causes chaos.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 31, 2020
Of course, there is no guarantee clubs would vote in favour of gifting Liverpool the title as they have not technically done enough to confirm their status as champions yet.
However, even the most ardent United and Everton fan would have to admit that Klopp’s side are in a stronger position than most have ever been in at the top of the table.
Teams have won titles by a single point or even on goal difference, but if the season is ended with the table at its current standings, Liverpool are absolutely miles away from the competition, and few could genuinely argue there would have been a realistic chance of the club failing to get the required two wins from their remaining nine fixtures to finish the job.
That said, football is one of the most unpredictable sports and that’s what makes us love it so much. Few could have seen Leicester City pulling off their incredible 2015/16 title triumph, while Manchester City also clawed back a strong Man United lead in 2011/12 to secure the title with almost the last kick of the season. Liverpool themselves were 3-0 down in the 2005 Champions League final to a strong AC Milan side but came back to 3-3 and won on penalties. Just last season, they went into their semi-final second leg with Barcelona 3-0 down and needing a miracle to go through, but they did it.
Everything is up in the air at the moment, but the Independent’s report on the latest goings-on behind the scenes surely point towards a positive outcome for Liverpool, and many neutrals will surely agree that outcome would be deserved.