English Premiership

OPINION | To finish the Premier League season or not?

Anfield gates (Getty Images)
Anfield gates (Getty Images)

The world is in hysteria. Panic over the coronavirus outbreak has inevitably hit all sporting codes across the globe.

Last Friday, the Premier League officially suspended the season with a view to resuming the 2019/20 campaign on Saturday, 4 April.

However, there have been reports that the FA chairperson Greg Clarke believes the season will not be completed.

West Ham's vice-chairperson Karren Brady also voiced her concerns and has suggested the campaign should be declared "null and void".

"As games in both the Premier League and in the English Football League are affected, the only fair and reasonable thing to do is declare the whole season null and void. Who knows who would have gone down or come up if the games have not actually been played in full? A huge blow to Liverpool who might be robbed of their first title in 30 years," she said.

Should the 2019/20 Premier League season be null and void?

Declaring the 2019/20 season "null and void" should not be considered - unless the virus spreads in a manner which is out of society's control.

Log leaders Liverpool (82 points) are mathematically six points away from clinching their first title in 30 years - a feat many Kopites (Liverpool fans) have been waiting a long, long time for.

Jurgen Klopp's charges have a 25-point gap over second-placed - and current Premier League holders - Manchester City (57 points).

However, the Reds are still widely expected to finish as Premier League winners with City as runners up - should the season resume.

While a null and void season remains possible, it would be a crushing blow.

Many questions will be raised from clubs and fans - nobody wants to answer a "what if ..." question and certainly not Liverpool or their fans if the Premier League does decide to end the season as is without any team claiming the title or being relegated.

I am sure the Premier League could hand over the title to Liverpool with no qualms from other clubs, but what happens to those sides who have fought for promotion and the teams that are in a relegation-threatened position?

And no, I am not a Liverpool supporter!

In third place, Leicester City (53 points) have been a surprise package once again, while Chelsea (48) hold firmly onto fourth place in Frank Lampard's first season as manager of the London side.

There are at least five teams who could break into the top four as they're gunning for Champions League football - Manchester United (45 points), Wolves (43), Sheffield United (43), Tottenham (41) and Arsenal (40).

Meanwhile, Manchester City have been banned from European competitions for two years after breaching UEFA's club licensing and financial fair play regulations.

City has appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but if the verdict remains in the European football associations favour, City will then have to forfeit their Champions League spot to the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League.

At the other end of the table, the relegation scrap is interesting with no fewer than nine teams looking to avoid the drop - Everton (37), Newcastle (35), Southampton (34), Brighton (29), West Ham (27), Watford (27), Bournemouth (27), Aston Villa (25) and Norwich (21).

The safety net is usually around the 38-point mark for teams in the lower end of the log table to survive the season.

There are nine matchdays remaining (10 for a couple of sides) and I believe that the current campaign needs to be completed for the Premier League to maintain its integrity.

Not only is the Premier League's credibility at stake, but the Championship and the rest of the lower-tier leagues as well.

Leeds United (71 points) are currently at the top of the Championship and are nine matches away from a Premier League return, while West Bromwich Albion (70) could challenge the Peacocks for title honours.

Keep integrity, complete the season!

However, for the 2019/20 Premier League campaign to be completed, many decisions need to take place.

The Euro 2020, scheduled for the June and July, should be postponed to 2021 with immediate effect as it will offer more days for the Premier League to be completed.

The English Football Association should cancel the FA Cup to offer more days for Premier League matches to be played.

UEFA should also cancel the current Champions League and Europa League campaigns. Travelling in Europe is currently a dangerous proposition and ending those competitions would help stop the spread of the virus – hopefully!

If the above decisions are put in place, the 2019/20 Premier League season can finish in under two months.

There have been reports that the campaign will not resume on 4 April, but rather continue at a later date - in May or June - depending on whether the coronavirus can be controlled throughout Europe.

For argument's sake, if the season resumes in June and ends in July, then the 2020/21 campaign would then have to commence in September or October (rather than its usual August start date) if players and staff are to be given a short break.

However, next season's winter break schedule for February would then have to be scrapped in order to finish the campaign before June 2021.

Sounds like a plan, right?