Six ways to help complete the season on Covid Island

Dave Tickner
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, (centre) has a word with former Chelsea player and now Fulham's Scott Parker, (left) as they walk off at the end of the match during the Barclays Premier League match at Craven Cottage, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 1, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Fulham. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

The postponement of Southampton’s FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury – who face the prospect of having to forfeit the tie as Leyton Orient did in the Carabao against a Spurs team that’s gone on to reach the final (more on which later) – and rising doubts over Villa’s game against Liverpool are yet further blows to an increasingly beleaguered and silly-looking football season. There are no gaps in the schedule, a hard deadline of May 23 to get everything finished, and postponed games left, right and centre as positive coronavirus test numbers fly off the charts all round the land, Premier League and beyond.

Finishing the season on time and in a satisfactory manner is already looking tricky and is only going to get trickier. We might well need something cleverer even than lower-league clubs having to give big clubs walkovers to get this done.

Luckily, we’re on hand to help. Here are six possible measures to prevent the season descending any further into gridlocked logjammed catastrophe…

 

An innovative approach to the Tottenham-Fulham problem
Spurs and Fulham currently provide a particularly novel problem with regards to the completion of this season. And that problem is that both their Premier League meetings currently stand postponed with rearranged dates needing to be found. Their first meeting, which should have been over Christmas, fell foul of the rona. Their second, in April, is already off because of Spurs getting to the Carabao Cup final. The potential for Spurs to have a lengthy Europa knockout run and for both or either of them to go deep in the FA Cup adds to the level of pickle here.

Innovative solutions are needed. We have two. One, the Premier League’s first actual for realsies six-pointer. Simply combine both games into one massive supergame at a neutral venue for double points. Be honest, you started off thinking it was a silly idea but already secretly love it. Think of the marketing potential. A London derby with six big fat points on the line. Think of the implications at both ends of the table. Think of the anti-climax when it’s just a 1-1 draw. Marvellous.

Solution number two. Do what we all used to do in kids or Sunday football and just play the two games back-to-back but reduced to an hour each. Not as much fun as option one, but still quite good. Especially when Jose Mourinho inevitably makes Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg play all 120 minutes.

 

Just accept that the FA Cup isn’t happening this year
Come on, guys. It was silly to schedule it and silly to start it. As Britain descends ever deeper into a Covid nightmare, actually playing the FA Cup becomes preposterous. Far more mingling of different clubs and opponents than league games. Inevitable disparity in testing regimes between your Premier League heavyweights and your plucky non-league fairytalers. Just loads of loads of games clogging up an already packed-tight schedule.

As the FA Cup’s got this far, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that next season will go completely swimmingly, let’s make it fair on everyone. No more FA Cup this season, but start next season’s competition at the third-round stage with the draw as it stands. Might even get some crowds in by then, if we’re lucky. Everyone’s happy. Apart from maybe Villa. But Marine will be, and that’s really all we’re bothered about here. The Carabao probably should have been binned as well, but as there’s only one game left in that we’ll leave it be – mainly because we want our Spurs-Fulham six-point extravaganza.

 

Don’t finish the season
Nice and simple this one. Apart from sorting out all the promotion and relegation and whatnot. But we’ll leave that to the boffins.

 

Replace all postponed matches with thumb wars
Could be between managers or an elected player from each club. Up to you. Could even do 11 thumb wars between opposing players. Make it a real event. All with properly washed hands, of course. It must not, repeat not, turn into a Covid superspreader event.

 

Pools panel decide the results, but for real
A confession. As a child way back in the distant ancient history of Grandstand and the vidiprinter and the classified results, I was fascinated by the pools panel and their verdicts on postponed games. Who were these mysterious creatures deciding the results of football matches that hadn’t even happened? Oh yeah, that’s the confession part: back then, I thought that’s what they were doing. I didn’t know what the football pools were; I thought these lads were literally deciding what the results would be. I was and am an idiot. Could work here, though. Get Mark Lawrenson involved and Liverpool should have the title sewn up by March.

 

The Supercomputer decides the results
Like the above only way f***ing stupider because the Supercomputer is absolutely right off its electronic tits. I’m obsessed with it, to be honest. It currently, for instance, predicts that Burnley will a) score precisely one more goal in their remaining 23 games this season (in a game they don’t even win) yet also b) survive with three points to spare as they at last achieve their final form under Sean Dyche and rack up 10 goalless draws between now and the end of May. Absolutely top-drawer faux-scientific woo.

Dave Tickner