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Keep Or Scrap, But No Buffet Style End To English Premier League Or Others

As UEFA head toward their Tuesday meeting and the English Premier League to their Thursday meeting this week to try and decide how to proceed with the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, this is the message they need to hear.

“This is not a buffet. Either scrap the entire 2019/20 season because of the coronavirus or keep it. But whatever you do, don’t pick and choose certain parts to recognize and not others.”

With nearly every major league in the world on hiatus, for the time being, everything is in limbo. Right now, football associations are looking at three main ways to end the season. That, though, of course assumes they won’t get back up and running by the beginning of April.

The first proposal is everything stops now and the league table stands. If you’re leading the league, congratulations! You’re champions. If you’re in the relegation zone, tough luck.

This would, of course, favor a team like Bayern Munich or Barcelona, who have very slim leads in their respective leagues at the moment.

Another idea is to annul the season and declare everything invalid, as West Ham United’s vice-chair Karren Brady proposed. Sorry Liverpool fans, but despite that 25 points at the top, it won’t matter. All competitions this season would be vacated and no one wins anything.

The third idea is to have the FAs devise a playoff system of some sort and use that to declare champions, European places, promotion, and relegation.

All have their positives and negatives, of course. But the most egregious suggestion is trying to have your cake and eat it too. Some have called for the good to be kept but the bad be thrown out.

One report from Fox Sports Australia citing The Telegraph discussed a hybrid system declaring champions and teams promoted… but no relegation.

Wait, what?

So the good results are good enough to keep but that bad results? Those were an oopsie?

If Norwich’s results don’t count for example, as they currently sit bottom of the Premier League, and won’t get relegated, then how can those points count for Liverpool, who beat them twice? Does the Canaries’ win over Manchester City count?

Which points are valid and which will get thrown out? Trying to reward the good results but not punish the bad is the ultimate hypocrisy and compromising of the integrity of the game.

Liverpool would likely still come out on top of the league. Barcelona beat relegation battling Mallorca earlier this season, but Real Madrid lost. If Mallorca’s points down count toward relegation, why would points won against them count for the title?

If the bad results don’t count, then do three points come off Barcelona’s tally? That automatically jumps Madrid to the top. But is that really fair?

If the league counts, then it counts. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. But it shouldn’t only include the positive and disregard the negative like a buffet of choosing only that which you like.

And not every country has to do the same. If England, for instance, wants to honor the season with Liverpool so far out in front in the league and City having already won the Carabao Cup, then keep it. But keep it all. And that includes relegating Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Norwich.

If the Bundesliga wants to have a playoff for the title between the current top four of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Monchengladbach, then do it.

Every country’s leagues, cups, and pyramid have different demands and circumstances. So it’s probably best to let them each individually decide how to finish their seasons.

And same goes for the Champions League. If UEFA decides to finish this year’s competition, with a one-legged format proposed, then everything counts. Or they could crown a champion, then you need the qualified teams from this year, not last year’s again, regardless of how those teams qualify.

If a particular league decides to keep the same four entrants after declaring this league season null and void, that makes sense. Then another league uses this season’s table as it stands, great.

UEFA and the FAs need to decide soon how they’ll handle their respective associations and leagues. Keep it all or scrap it all. But turning this year’s results into a buffet of a little bit of this, a little bit of that, is too complicated, inconsistent, and the least fair to end the season.

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