Liverpool are clearly two wins away from securing their Premier League title. They are 25 points ahead of the chasing pack and in statistical view, have a 100% probability of winning the 2019-20 season.
But, is it fair to hand them the title if no more matches are played this season? What will happen to clubs contending for other things such as the European places or safety from relegation?
In all fairness, giving Liverpool their long awaited title will be the right thing to do; for they have gone about the season with utter dominance and the table paints a clear picture as to the same. We at The Hard Tackle present to you a few reasons why doing the ‘right’ thing could lead to a world of troubles for the Premier League and the English FA.
Let us first explore the possibilities where English FA could decide the season if no more matches are played.
Take the current Premier League table to be the final standings
Now, this would have been ideal, if only all the clubs would have played the same number of games. Even then, had the clubs contending for European places or for safety would have played the same number of matches, it would not have mattered. But, the true picture isn’t so redeeming.
Fight for European places
As it stands, Manchester United would take fifth over others and are likely to get the final Champions League spot, with Manchester City currently banned from Europe for 2 years when the season ends (ended).
But, Sheffield United would argue they could potentially take fifth away from United. The Blades have a game in hand and their next fixture was to be against Newcastle United. One would argue a win over the Magpies and Sheffield United would be fifth over Manchester United and grab the last Champions League spot.
The relegation battle
As it stands, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Aston Villa would be relegated while West Ham United and Watford survive by the skin of their teeth. But, again, Aston Villa would have a point of contention in the fact that they have played one game fewer than others in the relegation battle.
Their next scheduled game was to be against Chelsea. But, they can argue that they could win and if they did manage that, they would be safe from relegation.
Conclusion: Stopping the season right here and taking the current table as is should be the way to go. But, it will be harsh on teams who have played a game less to miss out on European football or go down as a result of it.
Take the current Premier League table but cancel the ‘extra’ game that every club has played
In this case, Sheffield United would grab fifth and the last Champions League spot. Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich would be relegated.
Fight for Europe
Herein, Manchester United could object that if the Premier League is taking the table to be at 28 games by cancelling their extra game, why can’t they take the table to be at 27 games? If that is the case, Manchester United would still be fifth and get the last Champions League spot.
Tottenham can argue that if the table is taken at 26 games, they take the last Champions League spot and the debate will go on. Even if we assume the FA considers the 28-game mark to be fair, it will be harsh on teams that have played tougher fixtures already.
Sheffield United are yet to face Manchester United, Leicester City, Tottenham, Wolves and even Chelsea left, which means 5 BIG fixtures out of their last 10. Manchester United, on the other hand, have only Leicester, Tottenham and Sheffield United left. Wolves have just Chelsea, Arsenal and Sheffield United and could make a case for ending the season above Sheffield United if the entire season is played out.
The relegation battle
Aston Villa and Bournemouth would argue that if the English FA take the table at 27 games, they would be above Watford and West Ham. The Hammers though, have an easier fixture list left compared to Watford, Aston Villa and Bournemouth.
Conclusion: If the Premier League and the FA scrap the one extra game, clubs can argue on the fact that they can scrap more and take the table at an earlier time stamp. Alternatively, the clubs with an easier fixture list ahead will argue that they would have won more points in the remaining games compared to ones with a tougher run-in.
All in all, not giving Liverpool the Premier League title will see the FA face the wrath of many pundits and Liverpool fans. But, either of these decisions will cause a lot of uproar from fans of several other clubs and maybe even the teams themselves. In short, Liverpool deserve to win the title, but shouldn’t be handed it in such a way, if no more fixtures are played.
The fair choice would be in scrapping the season altogether, which would be unfair on Liverpool. Thus, in order to ensure it isn’t unfair or harsh on any club, perhaps, the Reds could be given a shield or a trophy for the scrapped season. Alternatively, we could play out this season and maybe have a more hectic 2020-21 campaign or even a shorter one.
This is one of the moments where the ‘right’ choice isn’t necessarily the fair one and the fair way to deal things isn’t going to sit right with every club. It’s a decision that the FA has to take and handle the ire of the resulting commotion or uproar.