The big news out of UEFA’s latest crisis meeting today are a set of guidelines to decide European qualifiers for next season in case of a league getting terminated early — such as the Netherlands’ Eredivisie and Belgium’s Jupiler League, both of which are basically there now though not officially ratified yet.
While UEFA continue to “strongly” urge the various leagues to finish out their seasons (with the remainder of this season’s European competitions pushed to August at the earliest), they have now recognized that won’t be possible in every (and maybe in any) case.
Should that happen, UEFA want leagues to decide European places (and, thus, final standings) on “sporting merit”. While “sporting merit” is not defined at all — they’re leaving that up to the individual leagues as long as it’s an objective and transparent method — it does put an end to the extra-silly notion of Arsenal getting a free ticket to Europe next year based on historical performances.
The procedure for selecting clubs should be based on objective, transparent and non-discriminatory principles. National Associations and Leagues, should otherwise have the ability to decide the final positions in their domestic competitions, having regard to the specific circumstances of each competition.
Most seem to agree that a points-per-game ordering is about the fairest solution at this point should the Premier League terminate early, though some teams could get a lucky advantage here thanks to strength of schedule played.
Hearing UEFA's executive committee has just decided that if leagues do not finish then qualification for Champions League/Europa League should be on sporting merit (which sounds like points per game)— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) April 23, 2020
Our friends at Royal Blue Mersey, SB Nation’s Everton blog, took this a step further and ordered teams based on just one game played against each of the other teams (so 19 games total), taking the best result for each team as the final score if there were two to choose from already. This means that some games could have different results for each of the two participants.
This “best ball”-esque format isn’t completely fair either since not all teams will have two results to choose from against every opponent — most teams have only played two games against only about half the league with 9-10 games still to go — but it is a potential solution nonetheless.
The table wouldn’t change significantly with this method either, especially at the top end. Chelsea still finish fourth and that’s just fine by us!