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What to do with the season
Clickbait in that title. There is no fair and simple answer to this problem. People have written in with completely different solutions, usually under the auspices of ‘this is the only fair so and so…’ or ‘the only fair way to do whatsitcalled…’. Look – we cannot just Get Coronovirus Done and the simplistic belief that there is a fair and simple answer to this, and to complicated issues in general, is a bad place to start.
There are no experts we can turn to on this (even Michael Gove seems to be interested in experts again) and some people will be annoyed by whatever happens. The only guaranteed outcome is lawyers getting richer and some people being annoyed.
So as there is no fair or simple answer, the question becomes what is a good way of trying to make this decision? When I was 9, ‘it was funny’ was a good enough explanation for doing anything and I see no reason why that should change. Now, I think it would be absolutely hilarious to deny Liverpool the title. Fair? No. Hilarious? Absolutely. The fact that sport is entertainment has been brought into sharp focus recently so that being the most entertaining option for me it is also the best one. I understand there are good reasons why this is not the case, but there is no solution, no option where everyone goes ‘OK – that’s fine’.
There are plenty of clubs who have had opportunities to do things that they would really, really, really have loved to do taken away from them through no fault of their own. Ironically a club in the same city as the champions elect had exactly this with Everton being denied a very good chance of being European champions during the 80s. That would make it even more funny. So scrap the season. Void it. Pretend it never happened. It’d make me laugh, and that’s the best reason to do anything at the moment.
Andreas Hunter, St Albans
…Look this talk of voiding season ,is just simply vile and besides the possible and quite frankly unfulfilling banter some might get of claiming Liverpool didn’t win the league this is not worth it .The only thing worse than voiding is the even more ridiculous notion of ,resetting the season and starting from scratch (this comes from the brain trust, that is urghhh….. Richard Keys ).Let’s put this into perspective, would anyone be having this conversation, if it was the season Leicester won it.
If we are being honest how many teams does voiding this year really help at this stage
Liverpool -Hell no ,literally one win away (if Man city fail to win their game in hand ) from the first title in 30 years .
Man CIty – there is still a chance of another 2nd class treble.They don’t get to give Davidl Silva a proper goodbye.There is a European ban looming.
Leicester and Sheffield – They would be losing almost certain European football , and let’s not forget they are both, still in the FA cup.Will there techniques be as effective next if there is a restart.
Utd _Still in 2 competitions besides , With a run of games that could end the Ole/Poch Debate.
Chelsea – Would maybe benefit from the league stopping now and being awarded 4th,Voiding would raise questions as to whether they are banned,
Wolves – You really want them to accept a voided season with champions league through the league or an actual european trophy they’ve been chasing since the Spanish?Portugese inqusition still avaialble.
Spurs and Arsenal probably the only 2 in the top 10 ,capable of benefiting from a from void football perspective (although top 4 is still possible) ,Then again they don’t get paid if their is no football, so it’s a catch 22.Need to rebuild so need this season to finish so they can rebuild, pay for the stadium/Pepe.
Burnley, Southampton -Secure for another season ,and can secure much needed revenue by ending the season.
Newcastle -See above, but with an FA cup quarter final for the first time this century.
West Ham – Fine voiding might mean no relegation and another crack at the big time but would you really trust the two and a half Davids and Ms Brady not to f..k it up , They botched Fornals for crying out loud.
others- there is a chance you will survive anyway ,if you’re that scared and unsporting to use this to avoid relegation ,you shouldn’t be a premiership side to begin with .
OK so mainly the beneficiaries, are the 6 teams at the bottom (including West ham). However ,is there any of them you wouldn’t trade ,for the opportunity to see Bielsa and Mad Slaven back in the premiership next season. I think not . There is a quarter of the season left lets try and get it sorted once it’s humanly possible and let next year take of itself .
By the way this may be unpopular , but as soon as possible, even if behind closed doors football needs to comeback ,even if it’s for the general mental health people, are licking toilets and doing tik tok challenges for Christ sake . We can start with, the 2 remaining games of week 29 and the FA cup as test cases, just to see the impact on the essential services, before moving forward.
…appreciate you’ve got everyone sticking their two pence into this, but I have another solution to consider.
Postpone all games now for the 19/21.
Wait for the curve to pass and commence the 20/21 season as originally intended. God willing we’ll be over this by then.
Prioritise the first 10 fixtures of the 20/21 season as being the postponed games of the previous season.
Play normally the away and home fixtures as per the 19/20 fixture list, but each of these games counts for double.
The results are applicable to both the 19/20 season and the 20/21 season.
It solves the logistical nightmare of rearranging games out of the normal schedule, it means that the 19/20 season can be concluded pre Christmas, we are not putting any more strain on players trying to cram in fixtures and the 20/21 season runs as normal. This solution sorts out the 19/20 season with least disruption.
Liverpool could be crowned winners in 2020, and 2021 in theory!
This would also have to make sense from a relegation/promotion perspective too – so why don’t we delay relegations and promotions until a full season is run in 20/21. There would have to be no promotions and relegation in that season. At the start of the 21/22 season, the promotion candidates get an automatic promotion based on their 19/20 finishing positions.
In any solution, there are going to be clubs and fans that are hard done by…. I just think this is an alternative solution which causes least disruption. But I’d be interested to hear the view of fans at the bottom of the table or facing promotion from the Championship?
So, he’s spot on that voiding a round of 38 fixtures compared to 8 or 9 does seem extreme. But that then got me thinking and Andy gets into this point himself a little bit… We’re surely evaluating the concept of a season purely on time e.g. It happens annually rather than, as his point suggests, that it is a ’round of fixtures’. So actually, we don’t need to void the next season, we’re just deferring it to a later time and moving away from this concept of August to May being a season (for now) but the round of fixtures itself being the season. Maybe a bit more like how America treats the NFL season and having a super bowl 50 for example – this is just PL-17, the next is PL-18 and so on (I appreciate that football is bigger than just the premier league but it’s easily applied to all leagues/tiers).
I also agree, with no guarantee on normality for an undetermined period of time, why cancel a season midway, to potentially cancel another season midway if something happens again, and so on? But not sure if trying to bring it back in line with the current calendar structure over the next few years is a good or bad thing as we’ve had years of grumbles in the English game about the football calendar, here’s the opportunity to suggest and implement something better.
I’m not 100% sure on the scrapping of cups, which can be a valuable source of revenue for teams through the leagues.
And while having not considered player contracts at all, i’m sure there are many legal reasons and bosman like challenges that could be raised sothe ideas muted by Andy couldn’t be done but coming full circle to my original point – maybe contracts based on seasons work more practically rather than contracts based on time ie years?
So a shout out to Andy. I might be wrong, he might be wrong, we all might be wrong with what we suggest, but we’re all on the same page in wanting to get the game we love back to some sort of normality when it’s safe and right to do so.
Matt (hoping to continue my 100% mailbox strike rate)
…There have been many emails on the subject, including my own, but the simple truth is that the Premier League should do everything and anything within its power to play the outstanding games. To void the season rewards the losers, and in any sporting context that cannot be acceptable.
…Reading today that the premier league would lose £1.2bn if they void the season versus around £200m if they finish it behind closed doors.
I don’t think you can strictly cancel next season either because teams have contracts with players which were based on generating a certain amount of revenue. If we cancel an entire season it makes it tricky for them to remain solvent.
That said, could we shorten next season by cancelling all the cup competitions? I appreciate that this might hurt the lower leagues more but it would save most teams around 4 weekends. This would mean the season could start up to 6 weeks later if we also bin the winter break.
We could also cancel all international friendlies which might save another 6 weeks and suddenly we have until the end of September to finish the current season and next season could start at the end of October giving the players a month too.
The season basically stopped at the end of March so I think it only needs 2 months to finish so as long as it starts by the start of August it might just be ok.
…Lots of views recently as to whether this season should be declared void, whether next season should be binned in order to finish this season, and whether rounds of penalties, quarantined squads or rock-paper-scissor might offer an agreeable way forward (in either direction).
Given the circumstances no-one, in reality, has a clue how things will work out. The rules around voiding a season are far from clear, and – having seen the breadth of views in the mailbox in recent days – any decision seems destined to disappoint large sections of the audience.
But, in these serious and unprecedented social circumstances, we may be about to see the whole of the 2019/2020 season disallowed – or perhaps not – by persons unknown, applying mysterious rules, in a mysterious room hidden far from view.
It’s a whole world of meta.
…Today it was suggested in one of your articles that the 2021 season should suffer but this one has to be completed. (Namely “Voiding the premier league season, this would be sacrilege”)
For me an obvious solution is to complete this season and the Champions League by the end of november with the 2021 season having teams only play each other once.
If the 2021 season was played on neutral grounds with only 19 neutral games per team then all is fair.
The champions league for 2021 could be a simple knock out , like old times ,eliminating the groups system to reduce the amount of matches and could also be on neutral grounds as one match instead of two legs if need be.
So how do I get my suggestion to the people who makes these vital sporting decisions before it’s to late and they do something ridiculous?
Eamon in Ireland
Points for staying home
How about, to emphasise the critical importance of social distancing, the Premier League abandons the current league standing for 2020 and decides the season’s rankings using a complex scoring algorithm, based on the ability of each team’s players to STAY THE F**K AT HOME for the next few weeks.
Not sure about the detail here, but maybe every players earns their team 3 point if they successfully stay home for 24 hours; 1 point if they only go out to Tesco for some bog roll (with VAR on hand to check in case they stray closer than 2m to any other customer); and points deducted for flouting the government advice like some selfish nobhead.
Boring James Milner would therefore probably lead Liverpool to the title they really deserve by spending April to June tending to his vegetable patch or suchlike, while Aston Villa are currently on course for relegation thanks to captain fantastic Jack Grealish and his 4am hi-jinks.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
The goon solution
Gent from Tirana’s suggestion that we go “straight to penalties” is absolutely ridiculous and it would taint this and next season as a
farce. I propose something much more logical and reasonable, borrowed from Ice Hockey (thanks Canada).
Every team will pick a “Designated Goon” (DG). The matches will start XI on XI, but in reality, in the center of the pitch will be the two side’s DG’s. The DG’s will circle each other, with deep frowns on their faces, throw down their beer bottles and fight. The first DG to pull the other DG’s shirt over his head, or knock him off his feet, wins the match for his side.
I reckon we could wrap up the season in about 3 weeks, depending on Goon availability…
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT (forever home of The Whale) USA
Saw the ‘Woefully Undercapped XI’ and thought I’d see if I could find a few who maybe received rather generous amount of caps compared to their ability!
I’m sure there will be plenty of dissenters, but here goes:
GK: Pickford, Jordan (24 caps) – Maybe a little harsh, but there aren’t actually that many GK’s who been capped over ten times for England. When you look back at some of the talent we’ve had in this position over the years, Pickford is underwhelming at the least.
DR: Jones, Phil (27) – Not technically a right back, but Jones is bad enough to appear anywhere across this back line, and I’m sure he was selected as back-up right back at a tournament in the not too distant past.
DL: Neville, Phil (59) – Matching Phils at full back then. Not a terrible player, and will probably be remembered fondly by Mancunians and Evertonians alike, but not an International standard player. At least 50 of those caps were awarded when he was the only man in the country who could kick with his left foot a bit.
DC: Stones, John (39) – Clearly has some ability but unsure he has ever really convinced as a defender. Plenty of mistakes in this back line!
DC: Smalling, Chris (31) – Remember that time when we had Terry, Ferdinand, Carragher, King & Woodgate all fighting for CB spots? Smalling would not have received a cap in that era let alone 31.
MR: Lingard, Jesse (24) – Too obvious really. Would be surprised if he adds many more caps to his tally, but then Southgate seems to like him so you never know.
ML: Downing, Stewart (35) – Honest enough player, but again, not up to the standard you would expect form an International winger.
MC: Dier, Eric (40) – Even personal fan-club Jose is getting fed up with him. Does anyone know what he actually does?
MC: Palmer, Carlton (18) – Makes Dier look like a flair player. Owes his England caps to Graham Taylor’s odd fascination with him.
ST: Heskey, Emile (62) – Lovely chap but, aside from one season at Liverpool, never scored anywhere near enough goals. Often struggled to trap a bag of cement too. Pretty much only got so many caps because Michael Owen said he liked to play with Heskey!
ST: Welbeck, Danny (42) – An odd one as he actually has 16 goals in his 42 caps which is none too shabby. However, he really shouldn’t have earned that many caps, underwhelming at Utd & Arsenal.
Vinny (LFC) Colchester
Not now, Johnny
A little disappointed at Jonny Nic taking the current Covid19 situation to bang the “football for free to the masses” drum.
The state are spending ridiculous amounts of money at the moment trying to support the health and financial welfare of the residents of the UK. This is the right thing to do and we, as tax payers, will no doubt feel the long term pain for this investment.
This is not the right time to suggest the Government should use tax payers money to pay for TV football broadcasting rights. It is not “free money” and would be better spent elsewhere. May I introduce Jonny to a concept called economics that exists outside the bubble of football.
Longing for VAR arguments
Just caught up on the last two weeks of mailbox entries. Or perhaps more accurately, last two weeks of Degrees of Separation and Topical XI’s.
…oh what I would give to go back to reading long missives on VAR.
Oliver (not here just to complain; will write in with actual contributions this week, I promise) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
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