Mixed messages as to how the season might finish
Saturday, 28th Mar 2020 22:17 by Tim Whelan
As conflicting stories continue to circulate over whether the current season will be completed, one report suggests it might be restart in July, but UEFA president thinks it will have to be scrapped by the end of June.
The good news is that football.london are claiming that adds that a conference call was due to take place today involving the FA, the PL, the EFL and the government, to discuss a proposal to finish the season over a six-week period, starting in July, but behind closed doors. Provided of course that it is safe to do so by then.
It is forecast that the pandemic will be past it’s peak by then in the UK, but the plan could still prove difficult even without fans being present. Some players have tested positive for coronavirus at Leicester and Portsmouth, and there may be more to come, so a few clubs might have problems fielding a side. But there is still believed to be a majority of clubs who would prefer to finish the season.
The bad news comes from Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, who told Italian newspaper La Repubblica "If we don't succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost. There is a plan A, B and C. The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June. There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs."
"It's hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don't know whether we'll resume, with or without spectators. If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships." In other words the whole season would be a write-off and there would be no promotion or relegation.
That decision has already been taken by the FA for all leagues in England below National League level. And there are some lower division clubs in the EFL who want the Football League to do the same, because clubs are running desperately short of cash and need to start selling season tickets for 2020/21, as well as finalising deals for corporate facilities.
Yet with many fans losing income and their jobs, or being fearful they might suffer this fate in the near future, a large number wouldn’t be committing themselves to buying season tickets just yet. And the corporates won’t be rushing to buy matchday packages either, when they have lost thousands in sales and will be suffering cashflow problems.
Leeds have had to ask the players to defer half their wages so that the lower paid staff at the club can be paid in full, and we stand to lose £2.5m in gate receipts if the remaining home games can’t be completed. Even before the crisis we were close to breaking the Football League’s FFP rules, so this is why the club put season tickets and memberships for 2020/21 up for sale, even though this has angered many fans.
And one other idea that won’t go away is that there could be a 22-team Premier League next season with Leeds and West Brom being promoted from the Championship. At least according to Telegraph journalist Matt Law. After West Ham insider ‘ExWHUemployee’ tweeted that his club were keen on the idea, Law claimed on his own personal Twitter account that there are other teams who are also in favour.
Some might think that getting promoted in this was would feel a bit hollow, but we could always apply the same logic that the FA did for the Kiko Casilla case. We can’t prove beyond all possible doubt that Leeds would have been promoted if the season had finished, but we can say that on the balance of probability that we would have been.
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