Liverpool legend John Barnes has insisted that the Premier League season, and all lower leagues, must be completed amid the coronavirus crisis as the Reds can’t be handed the title.
As things stand, all fixtures are suspended until April 30 at the earliest, but as the situation worsens in the UK, it’s highly likely that the date will be pushed back.
With UEFA postponing EURO 2020 until next year and the Champions League and Europa League on hold until later in the summer, it seemingly does free up the calendar over June and July for domestic leagues to be completed.
However, much will depend on the virus outbreak and whether or not it’s deemed safe for sporting events to resume, perhaps even behind closed doors initially, as the number of reported cases and deaths in the UK continues to rise sharply this week.
Barnes though has insisted that his former club can’t just be handed the title, as he has stressed the importance of making sure the season is finished, whenever that may be.
“A lot of people are looking at it quite binary saying: ‘Liverpool should just be given the league title’ because they’re 25 points ahead. But for the integrity of football it is important that the season must be finished,” he is quoted as saying by the Mirror. “It’s ridiculous, you can’t just ignore three quarters of a season! You can’t just award Liverpool the league title without promotion or relegation taking place. It’s wrong.
“It wouldn’t make sense (to award Liverpool the title) because a team in The Championship might say, ‘Well we were 15 points ahead, why aren’t we getting promoted?’
“It’s not a binary choice to say give them the championship and we’ll sort everything else; you can’t do that! I don’t see why you cannot finish the season.
“Completing this season is the most important thing to do. For the integrity of football all the way down, it is so important the season is concluded.”
It’s hard to disagree with Barnes, and given his past with Liverpool and perhaps the perception that he would be desperate to see them crowned champions to end their long wait for a league title, it says it all that even he is calling for the season to be completed.
Whether it’s the title, Champions League qualification, relegation or promotion, the fairest way to decide all these questions is by completing the season to ensure all clubs are content.
Time will tell when the Premier League and Football League get the green light from the government to do so but if the opportunity is there, Barnes is adamant that the remaining fixtures must be played before moving on to next season.