Where Do We Go Now? – Completing the Football Season

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Arsenal and West Ham players shake hands before a game

It has been almost a month since we last saw a game of football go ahead, with Leicester defeating Aston Villa 4-0 on 9th March.

The match feels like a lifetime ago but, due to the spread of coronavirus, football has been indefinitely suspended and nobody is really sure when it will return.

Initially, the Premier League and EFL planned for football to return this weekend (4th April), however it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t be possible.

At the moment, there is no return date and senior representatives are in regular discussion to decide how the season will be completed, if at all.

What options are currently on the table?

Play out the season when possible

Jurgen Klopp smiles during Liverpool training session

The scenario that many senior figures in the game are preferring – waiting until it is safe and appropriate to resume the season.

With Euro 2020 cancelled, there is ample time to fit the remaining games in over the summer.

However, this requires the virus statistics to have significantly dropped and stabled over the summer for football to resume then.

If not, the beginning of 2020/21 season could be pushed back so the final games of the current season could be played.

To hurry the end of the season for a new one to start, multiple games could be played over a short period of time – similar to the Christmas period.

Football could them resume as normal, with a later season start and finish which could coincide nicely with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar scheduled to take place in the winter.

Finish behind closed doors

Newcastle United stadium empty before matchday

One possibility that is being discussed is finishing the season behind closed doors.

The move would see football continue with only players and essential staff allowed at matches, which excludes all supporters and media.

Due to financial obligations to broadcasters such as Sky Sports and BT Sport, the season would have to finish in July to fulfil the obligations.

Therefore, all games could be broadcast live for supporters to watch from home.

This is seen as the ideal situation for many, however the pandemic could peak in the coming months and make this more difficult.

Squads would also be allowed to increase their size from 25 to 29 as it would be inevitable for players to quarantine should they show symptoms.

The proposals would need to be approved by the government, public health bodies and the PFA in order to go ahead.

Cancelling the season

RSC Charleroi player celebrates scoring a goal

On the other end of the scale, this controversial decision has its supporters but also its opponents.

The Belgian Pro League has recently become the first major European league to go down this route, which could lead to others following suit.

Club Bruges, who have a 15-point lead at the top of the table, would be declared champions with the current table set to stand.

In this scenario, Liverpool would be crowned champions but Aston Villa, Norwich City and Bournemouth would all be relegated without having a chance to compete in their remaining fixtures.

Leeds, Coventry and Crewe would win their respective leagues and achieve promotion for the following season.

Of course, this would face a fierce backlash from many clubs who would be relegated without the full set of fixtures being fulfilled.

Making the season ‘null and void’

Leeds United footballer Pablo Hernandez holds his head in his hands

An option that has been mentioned, but is unlikely to happen, is nulling the season and making all results void.

This would mean that the current season would be ended immediately, with next season beginning with the same teams as this season.

The reaction would be the complete opposite as cancelling the season, as this would be good news for teams in relegation places but bad news for teams at the top of their leagues.

However, this could have more serious ramifications with legal action already being considered should this scenario occur.

Senior figures are hoping to avoid this at all costs, with a view to completing the season when safe to do so.

Jordan is a journalism graduate with a background in sports journalism covering football across a number of online publications, who now works in Gibraltar producing content for Mansion.
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