It only took a day for the headwinds concerning the Premier League season to change. Despite public reports that the Premier League and EFL intend to see the 2019-20 season out to completion, according to The Athetic’s David Ornstein, there is buzz among multiple Premier League clubs to abandon the 2019-20 season and replay it in full once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
This wouldn’t even be unprecedented after yesterday’s news that The FA have ruled the vast majority of the 2019-20 non-league football season as null and void — although with no money at stake, that’s a lot easier to do at that level.
A meeting last week among all twenty Premier League clubs had committed to a season payed out in full, for the obvious sporting reasons but also to avoid having to pay back approximately £762 million in broadcast revenue, not to mention dealing with all the other commercial interests and partnerships that are involved. The world, as we all know, is motivated by money, and that’s especially true in the Premier League.
Publicly, only Karren Brady, vice-chair of Ham United, and Paul Barber, Brighton chief executive have expressed opinions different from the public stance. Privately, per Ornstein, the pulse around clubs is coalescing into a different message. Many have strong reservations about the COVID-19 crisis. According to one unnamed club official:
“I’m hoping the situation changes ... unfortunately, the world is changing and it’s changing for the worse every day.
“It’s absolutely clear what is going to happen. It’s a worldwide pandemic. You just start (the Premier League season) again and there are very few losers. Liverpool, I know. But in the grand scheme of things, honestly, it really doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to start again.
“This (COVID-19) is going to get worse here (in Britain), so it’s not about players returning to training. If we all stay at home and self-isolate for the next two, three months, we’re going to get through this quite simply. But even then, there’s going to be a period of slow reintegration into normality, otherwise the virus will spike again. So, if we’re lucky, the new season will start in September.
“If they want to say, ‘This season is over and it will be recommencing with the final nine games being played out in September’, fantastic. But if that’s not feasible. Just end this league with whatever consequences that has. End it and say the new league will start in September.
“We look like petulant, ridiculous children now. I passionately believe what we’re doing is wrong. And I would like to think my colleagues now believe that as well, that the world has changed. It’s a scary place at the moment and we’ve got to treat it seriously.”
- Source: The Athletic
Ruling the 2019-20 Premier League season null and void would present a multitude of ramifications stretching down the pyramid to the Championship and further:
- Will Liverpool be crowned champions? Champions with an asterisk?
- How will Champions League spots be decided? Currently Chelsea sit fourth, three points above Manchester United.
- If this season is truly null and void, shouldn’t the Champions League spots revert back to the 2018-19 table where Chelsea finished third?
- What happens to relegation battle in the Premier League? West Ham, Watford, and Bournemouth sit level at the bottom with 27 points
- What happens to promotion teams from the Championship? Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion currently sit in the automatic qualification spots.
- Will Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, Fikayo Tomori, and Mason Mount need to earn their first goals for the club again?
This list could go on and on.
But at the end of the day, sports truly is a secondary issue to a pandemic crisis.
The beautiful game is supposed to be entertainment for fans who need to take a break from the real world. However, the world is in chaos. Those in charge cannot ensure the safety and health of the athletes, let alone the fans who would surely find a way to form crowds in support.
Per Ornstein, one club director agrees with the notion that priorities surrounding football is all wrong.
“The position we’re taking is ridiculous. There are such bigger issues to deal with yet every question is, ‘Will Liverpool be champions?’.
“Listen, I’m going to let my players go on holiday but if they get stuck because the situation changes, do you think the government will send private planes over to get them so they can play football? This is how disconnected and ludicrous they are.”
- Source: The Athletic
The next Premier League meeting is scheduled for April 3. Whatever the decision may be, an agreement needs 14 out of 20 clubs to agree on a vote.
Increasing unease among some PL execs that resuming football even being discussed amid #coronavirus pandemic. After Brady/Barber notes of caution, chairman of another club tells @TheAthleticUK season should be replayed once safe regardless of consequences: https://t.co/0YiRGOIbu6— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) March 27, 2020