Much has been written and said by football fans and journalists over the last few weeks as to how the authorities should bring the 2019/20 football season to a satisfactory conclusion given the current pandemic.
With that in mind, we canvassed the thoughts of four football fans who each support a club from one of the four divisions in English football, to get their thoughts on how the season should conclude.
The Premier League, EFL and the FA have five options on the table to consider:
- Null and void the season
- End the season now
- Set a deadline for completion
- Play behind closed doors
- Wait to complete the season
Manchester United fan Scott Taylor
For me, as a Manchester United fan, it pains me to say it but finish the season now and give Liverpool the title. They deserve it.
It would be a shame if the season finishes now as I felt we had made some real progress in the past month of the season, however, over the course of the season we haven’t been consistent enough to warrant a top four finish.
The Europa League would have been our best method of entry into the Champions League. However, I think with a longer off-season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to work with the squad, we could hit the ground running next season and have a much stronger push for the title with a fall back of guaranteed top four.
I would then have the current bottom three of the Premier League and the top three of the Championship to have a play off for relegation/promotion. Have double game week over five weeks, playing each team home and away.
Every other team in the league finishes in their current standings. I would also mirror the above for the Championship, League One and League Two.
Barnsley fan John Newsome
As a Barnsley FC fan, it would be easy for me to say that the season should finish and be declared null and void. My team would benefit. However, that’s not my feeling. I think the season should continue once the dreaded Coronavirus is in the past, which by the way, won’t be too long now.
The worst-case scenario is that the Premier League and EFL could say that the season will start on July 1st. With what’s happening in other countries and if Britain followed that pattern, July is well within reason to start up the season again. There aren’t that many games left, the Premier League have 9 fixtures and the EFL have roughly the same, give or take.
July 1st is a Wednesday, so everyone kickstarts the season as Game Week 1, on Wednesday, then the following weekend is Game Week 2 and so on. Game Week 9, would roughly finish on Sunday 2nd of August 2020. That could be extended for 2 weeks so that the FA Cup could be fitted in just like it would have been done. If social distancing is still in force then there should be no crowds, simple as that. It’s not normal but this period is unprecedented and things that haven’t happened before may just have to happen now. None of this ‘well it’s not our way’.
The Champions League and Europa League can also be fitted in. Bearing in mind Liverpool have gone out of the Champions League, as have Tottenham. Chelsea look to heading the same way with only Manchester City looking to progress, so the Premier League won’t be affected too much by the Champions League. You could work around Manchester City which is what would have happened anyway.
Manchester United and Wolves are still in the Europa League with both having a chance of progressing. Yet, Wolves are out of the FA Cup so there’s no problem there. In theory, only the two Manchester clubs have the most amount of fixtures to work around which can be done.
If the season resumes on July 1st then an end date of August 31st is given to all competitions, which would be feasible. The players will in effect have had their pre-season so the 2020/21 season could start on the weekend commencing the 4th September 2020. Remember also, most will have only played nine games in that period up to 4th September.
The new 2020/21 season can again be compacted with extra time and replays being scrapped. Why should an FA Cup replay take 10 days to be played? That in itself is wrong even prior to this conundrum.
Usually, the play-offs are spread over virtually the whole of May with large gaps in between the games. This can be compacted as there are only so many teams that will be playing out of the 91.
It can be done and negativity needs to be dismissed straight away, this ‘we can’t do that’ needs to be taken out of every conversation. It can be done. Whoever decides the outcome firstly needs to agree to a pact that this is unprecedented and shouldn’t be classed as the norm. Also, in the pact should be ‘no negative comments’ such as ‘we can’t’ ‘why?’ and ‘We just can’t’. These statements need to be taken out of any conversations.
It can be done.
Bolton Wanderers fan Blair Patterson
I think the first thing to say is that at the moment there is no perfect solution. From a selfish point of view, if the 2019/2020 season was made null and void, I’d love to see Bolton have another crack at League One with a full pre-season, however that scenario raises more questions, such as would we have to start the season on -12 points again? Another consideration is the financial impact a null and void season would have on clubs. Presumably TV companies and sponsors would withhold money which would have an effect at all levels, but especially those at the bottom of the ladder. Sh*t rolls down hill after all!
What I am not a fan of is calling the season as it stands, either by current standings or on a points per game basis. It might seem harsh on Liverpool, Leeds and West Brom amongst others, but in my opinion while there are games to be played and points up for grabs, how can you relegate teams or remove the opportunity for clubs to catch those chasing promotion?
I think the sensible approach is for the season be completed, as and when football is able to be played again. If that means playing games behind closed doors, so be it. People will say that it is a spectator sport, but these are unprecedented times. I understand the concerns about the impact on next season, especially with the Euros, but I’d be looking at maybe scrapping the EFL Trophy and FA Cup replays from the off to ease the load to start with. It might need some assistance from some of the richer clubs in order for this to play out, but it is in my opinion the only way to maintain sporting integrity.
Oldham Athletic fan Gary Skinner
In my opinion, I think that if at all possible the season should be played out, behind closed doors if necessary, and even if that means playing a match every alternate day. At least it will come to some sort of reasonable conclusion that way and promotion and relegation issues are settled. The controversies and potential lawsuits for a decision calling the season null and void would be a disaster for the game as a whole.
Having said all of that, though, this is much bigger than football, and it’s possible that normality won’t have resumed in time, meaning that we would just have to forget this season and hopefully start afresh in August/September.
What do you think? Comment below!