****** mess and a half. Legit no correct way to do this as someone or one club will have a problem with any solution made. Rightly so as well. Pffft.Liverpool set to be given Premier League title amid coronavirus chaos
Options for next season include a 22-team Premier League, possibly played to dovetail with the winter World Cup
ByBen Rumsby ; Jason Burt ; Sam Wallace and Matt Law13 March 2020 • 10:18pm
Liverpool are still likely to be crowned Premier League champions, even if the coronavirus crisis causes the season to be abandoned amid mounting fears it would be impossible to complete it this summer.
As revealed by Telegraph Sport last month, there is no regulation governing what happens if the 2019-20 campaign is curtailed. But a senior club executive revealed on Friday night that there was little opposition to awarding Jurgen Klopp’s men their first English title for 30 years following what threatened to be the longest suspension of the professional game since the Second World War.
Leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and two more victories for the Anfield club will give them the title. Such is the gap that there is no appetite among their rivals to deny them the crown.
The coronavirus hiatus is in danger of plunging football in England into anarchy, with governing bodies and clubs desperately trying to devise ways to avoid the unprecedented meltdown that could ensue if Government projections over the spread of the deadly disease prove correct.
On a day when more sport fell by the wayside, including the London Marathon, the Masters, Wales’s Six Nations match with Scotland, England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka, the start of the Formula One season, and the Giro d’Italia, one senior figure at a Premier League team told Telegraph Sport: “There is so much more at stake. There is a focus on whether Liverpool will be champions, but that will be an irrelevance in the scheme of things. There is an intent we will recommence, but will that be possible?”
The Premier League had devised a plan in which the season would finish on schedule provided it resumed on April 3. That was the date to which it, the English Football League and Football Association agreed to suspend the men’s and women’s professional game following crisis talks on Friday. But with the virus forcing seven Premier League clubs yesterday to put players into isolation and the disease not forecast to peak until May or June, an April resumption appeared optimistic in the extreme.
FA chairman Greg Clarke told Premier League clubs it was not “feasible” to expect their remaining matches to be played, while another senior figure told Telegraph Sport: “You tell me whether you think there’s the remotest possibility that anything in the science is going to tell us that it’s going to be safer to play on April 3 than now.”
This summer’s European Championship is expected to be postponed at an emergency meeting of European football stakeholders on Tuesday in order to allow the club season to continue into June and July – and potentially even beyond.
The same senior figure raised the prospect of the calendar being redrawn to dovetail with the next World Cup in Qatar, the switch of which to the winter of 2022 had already been accommodated by the game.
“One scenario could be that you just work backwards from it and you say, ‘Why don’t we have a calendar season in 2022 and a calendar season in 2021 and we play the rest of this season in October?’” he said.
But many players will be out of contract on June 30 and will also have lost match fitness, raising major questions about the integrity of competitions.
Calling a halt to the season would be no less chaotic. That has resulted in discussions taking place inside some Premier League teams over proposals that could be put forward if the season could not be played to a conclusion. One would be to void the season, but there is an acceptance that would cause many of its own problems with Liverpool so close to winning the title.
There would also be the issues of relegation and promotion from the Championship, together with Champions League qualification, which carry huge financial implications for the clubs involved.
One proposal that could be made would be for the top two in the Championship, currently Leeds and West Brom, to be promoted and for 22 teams to compete in next season’s Premier League. The EFL Cup would be postponed for one year to allow extra space in the fixture list and five clubs, instead of three, would be relegated at the end of the season.
One suggestion regarding Champions League qualification would be to allow the teams who qualified for this season’s tournament to keep their places next season and then enter any additional sides currently in qualification positions into an expanded qualifying phase.
That would mean third-placed Leicester going into a qualifying round for the Champions League, with Liverpool, Manchester City – subject to the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing – Chelsea and Tottenham holding on to their places in the tournament. But Manchester United, Wolves and Sheffield United, who are all above seventh-placed Spurs, would no doubt object to this.
Christian Purslow, the Aston Villa chief executive, attended Friday's emergency meeting of the Premier League. Asked if he thought the current season will be completed, he replied: “We have no idea. Let’s hope so.”
Failure to do so would in turn jeopardise billions of pounds in television money, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters having already stressed to clubs in an email on Thursday night that “contractual commitments” needed to be taken into consideration.
As revealed by Telegraph Sport, it would also risk sending EFL clubs – who depend on match-day revenue – out of business. That might be one reason why the non-League game did not follow the lead of its professional counterpart yesterday by calling off matches.