“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” Those were the words of the great Bill Shankly, and while said with tongue firmly in cheek there is a resonance of truth in the statement.
Of course, the current coronavirus outbreak offers us all a sense of perspective the like of which the vast majority of us will have never felt before, and football has to take a back seat with the health and wellbeing of friends and family a more pressing concern.
At times like these it’s not difficult to think of what might be – that’s natural enough – and for Liverpool supporters the ongoing suspension of Premier League action is leaving many on tenterhooks as to what might happen to the Reds’ seemingly unstoppable assault on the title.
But will the 2019/20 season be completed? And it is voided, will the current league table stand with Liverpool presented with the trophy?
Information is fairly sketchy, as you might expect in such unprecedented times, but here’s everything we know about the situation so far?
When Will the Premier League Season Start Again?
At the moment, that is a question that cannot be answered with any certainty.
The Premier League had initially hoped to resume on April 4 – preposterous now, such is how fast this pandemic is moving, and now all English football has been put back until April 30 at the very earliest.
That position is constantly being reviewed and the situation is fluid, and as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise so too does the likelihood that the Premier League will return behind closed doors.
It is believed that the EFL are already looking into the possibility of using coronavirus testing equipment on players and staff before matches – but only if that doesn’t impact upon the NHS’ needs, which seems fanciful at this moment in time. If teams pass the test, games would be allowed to go ahead under proposed plans.
There is also the possibility that multiple games could be played at a single neutral venue, behind closed doors, with the action televised and broadcast via the usual channels.
Southampton’s chief executive, Martin Semmens, said: “When everybody is safe and we’re not using up NHS and police resources, the government would like us to get back to playing because we are entertainment and a sign that the country is coming back to normal.”
Will the Premier League Season Be Voided?
It seems increasingly unlikely that the season will be voided, despite tabloid columns from the likes of West Ham’s Karren Brady suggesting that was the right course of action.
There was a conference call involving representatives of all 20 top flight clubs, and none raised the idea of the season being declared over and results voided.
That should put to bed any notion that the 2019/20 Premier League season will be declared void.
Will the Premier League Season Be Extended?
The Premier League and the Football Association have confirmed that the season can be extended ‘indefinitely’ beyond the traditional June 1 finishing date.
That is a measure that has support from across the European game, with all 55 national governing bodies within the UEFA framework voting to agree on a year-long delay to Euro 2020 so that domestic matters can be resolved.
“We have collectively supported Uefa in postponing Euro 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition,” read a joint statement from the Premier League, the FA, the PFA and the LMA.
No provisional end date has been given, which means the present campaign could continue indefinitely as far as August or even September – which would cut into next season.
The other complication comes from player contracts, with many players’ current deals ending on June 30. Would they be ineligible to play for the present employer after that date? Adam Lallana is the one Liverpool player that falls into that category.
Will Liverpool Be Crowned Premier League Champions This Season?
Given the evidence gathered so far, it seems as though the only way Liverpool will NOT lift the Premier League trophy this season is if they lose their incredible lead at the summit of the table to Manchester City.
Off the field issues are unlikely to prevent us from taking the title, with the Premier League and the FA committed to completing the season whenever it is deemed safe and appropriate to do so.
Unless the coronavirus outbreak mutates in a way that nobody can foresee, and assuming the Liverpool players take care of business on the pitch, we will be lifting that famous trophy for the first time in 2020.