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Coronavirus could prevent Liverpool from winning the Premier League title

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3 hours ago, Ronnie Whelan said:

In fairness to the Dutch, how could you award Ajax the title. They are ahead on goal difference.

It doesn't matter how they are ahead. They are ahead.

 

The same goes for European places, relegation, etc.

 

After all these years, I now know why they are referred to as 'crazy Dutch bastards'.

 

 

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That is insane from both the Dutch government and the league. There are talks about tourism corridors for the summer going on already. Why could they not play football behind closed doors in June?

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15 minutes ago, Creator Supreme said:

If Spain or Italy go down the Dutch route, we're fooked!

The Dutch league has made its shout about 3 hours ago and already there's people talking legal cases. It's a fucking tin pot league. Absolutely no chance a major league is following that path without and full and legal agreement in advance and they're not getting one of them. 

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1 hour ago, TheHowieLama said:

That would seem to suggest neither will leagues.

European games will be harder because of all the travelling between countries. Personally I'm starting to think it's going to be incredibly difficult to get a full league season in next year, though. None of the logistical problems they keep mentioning that may hinder finishing this season are just going to go away. There's plenty of talk about second and third waves of the virus and how lockdown and social distancing measures may be relaxed but then need to be tightened again at points. I think the leagues seriously need to look at alternatives to playing a full 38 game season next year regardless of when and if this season actually gets completed. Otherwise there's every chance that they'll just end up with 2 incomplete seasons.

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I think that is why some would suggest if it is too dangerous/complicated to finish this season it makes more sense to call it sooner than later. At least that is a plan, right now seems like limbo

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1 hour ago, 1892-LFCWasBorn said:

It doesn't matter how they are ahead. They are ahead.

 

The same goes for European places, relegation, etc.

 

After all these years, I now know why they are referred to as 'crazy Dutch bastards'.

 

 

The Dutch government put them in an almighty situation banning even bcd games until September. How do you call a champion in such a tight race? The only conceivable way would be playoffs for the title and playoffs for relegation but if you can't play there until September how do they do that. Belgium and Scotland will go the ppg route but their job is easier in terms of deciding a champion. France probably will too if they can't finish their season.

 

Good to hear that uproar is being caused as a result of this decision. 

 

I could see the Italians and Spanish doing mega playoff games to decide things if completing the rest of their seasons in full isn't possible, but in truth i think all the major leagues play out unless it goes tits up in Germany.

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1 hour ago, TheHowieLama said:

I think that is why some would suggest if it is too dangerous/complicated to finish this season it makes more sense to call it sooner than later. At least that is a plan, right now seems like limbo

Who are 'some'? If we don't know when next season is going to start, how does calling it now take us out of limbo?

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Only realistic way Liverpool can now lose the League Title
 

It's all about the void for Liverpool at present.

And we're not talking about the prospect of the Premier League season being scrapped.

Well, not exclusively, at any rate.

Instead, it's the huge chasm that has been left by the absence of football - and, just as pertinently, the hullabaloo and circus that follows it from game to game, venue to venue.

Supporters, it seemed, simply couldn't get enough of Jurgen Klopp's side. Particularly this season when they were building on last term's Champions League triumph by adding the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Cup and strolling towards a remarkable first title in 30 years.

The monster demanded to be fed. And the appetite was insatiable.

 

And then... it stopped. The world grinding to a halt, turned upside down, and somewhat scarier as a consequence. The situation remains ongoing.

That was back on March 13, with it now being a full 45 days since Liverpool fans could see their heroes in action, the lengthiest such gap - including friendlies - since July 2017.

Indeed, it might be a good while longer before supporters are able to attend matches. Government and science will deal with that conundrum much further down the line.

In the meantime, while some have temporarily lost their hunger for Liverpool, the majority of followers are still seeking their regular fix.

But rather giving fans reason to relax, the Reds' record 25-point lead at the Premier League summit has instead prompted more sweating than if Klopp's men were ahead only on goal difference.

And the lack of meaningful movement regarding the fate of the campaign - which will remain the case the longer lockdown is extended - has meant every related development from further afield is magnified to the nth degree.

 

Take the news on Friday that the Dutch FA had decided to end the Eredivsie.

Cue the usual suspects - not least Piers Morgan, a fan of struggling Arsenal - continuing their calls for the Premier League to also be declared null and void.

Except, of course, that's not what is happening in Holland, a decision forced upon them by the Dutch government banning all professional sports until September.

Sure, there is no champion and no relegation, but the European qualification berths have been determined using current placing - the sporting merit UEFA had demanded earlier in the week.

There's a chance the Premier League could ultimately follow suit if there's no feasible way the action can resume before August.

After all, Belgium have and Scotland want to. But their situation is different to the one with which the Dutch had to contend - both have clear leaders, while in Holland that Ajax and AZ Alkmaar are separated by goal difference with each having nine games to play underlines neither could stake a genuine clam to the title.

Club Brugge have already been declared champions by the Belgian FA, while Celtic are expected to be awarded likewise north of the border.

Neither, though, possess the size of lead Liverpool enjoy, the Reds needing to win only two of their remaining nine games to claim a first Premier League crown.

It highlights how each league is its own separate, individual case. Each will have their own way of ending the campaign fairly, while also mindful of the fact there is as yet utterly no guarantee they'll be able to start a new campaign on schedule.

 

Liverpool fans will remain on edge, but they need not be. Realistically, the only way Klopp's side can lose the title is by having their mammoth advantage overturned in the remaining games, should the season be completed as normal.

And if that happens, Reds fans will be disappearing into another type of void altogether.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/only-realistic-way-liverpool-can-18148023

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If they were to cancel the league they should just work out a way to award points for games. Maybe mirror the previous results against the teams left to play. At least then where you end up has something to do with how you performed during the season. There's no fucking way failure should be rewarded with a second shot clean slate, whilst success is punished. 

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Starting next season in the Autumn as the inevitable second wave hits will carry more risk than finishing this one in  june/July as we come out of lockdown with the virus suppressed as much as it can be. 

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I see the jug eared one has now said it 'may prove to be the only way' and for the PL to follow the Dutch. I mean seriously, do these clowns not realise the damage they are doing to an industry they make so much money from and make their living out of?

 

Void it all, Gary? Yeah, you going to repay all your wages, business expenses, benefit in kind and sponsorship you 'earnt' on the back of that voided season? oh no, that doesnt count, does it? It's different for you cunts and your short sightedness.After all, black is white and white is black in your cossetted luvvie world.

 

They honestly think 'voiding' a whole professional season, at any level' is the 'only way' forward? Everyone else's investment, from fans, viewers and players etc, doesnt matter but it's ok for the tv pundits can retain ALL their earnings and benefits from a voided season? Fuck off you whores.

 

It's fucking unbelievable you have cunts like Lineker and Ferdinand pontificating to the nation about who has played well in a game, who hasnt etc (thanks, Ive 2 eyes of my own and even if Im myopic, I dont need you 2 cunts and others to 'talk me through' the game).

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Have we been given a valid reason yet why next season, a season unplayed with nothing invested in it yet takes precedent over a season 75 percent complete with insane amounts of money, time and work invested into it already. Is this season itself contagious.

 

I'm  still 100 percent convinced it will be voided, the whispering and appetite for it will grow.  

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20 minutes ago, Bobby Hundreds said:

Have we been given a valid reason yet why next season, a season unplayed with nothing invested in it yet takes precedent over a season 75 percent complete with insane amounts of money, time and work invested into it already. Is this season itself contagious.

 

I'm  still 100 percent convinced it will be voided, the whispering and appetite for it will grow.  

Voiding the season won't happen. It's effectively been taken off the table now.  It will either finish behind closed doors or they will use the existing table.

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32 minutes ago, Bobby Hundreds said:

Have we been given a valid reason yet why next season, a season unplayed with nothing invested in it yet takes precedent over a season 75 percent complete with insane amounts of money, time and work invested into it already. Is this season itself contagious.

 

I'm  still 100 percent convinced it will be voided, the whispering and appetite for it will grow.  

The way I see it is this ends up in the courts via Utd, Bournemouth or maybe Leeds, WBA or Fulham.  Somebody gets screwed if it doesn't finish.

 

Your point is the one I can't see a way past, how can anyone make the argument next season is more important that this one? There is no sense in it. In Holland or Scotland you can throw 2m from the kitty at Patrick Thistle and they will go away, Man Utd can't be bought off, a team relegated can't be satisfactorily paid off either. The Swiss Ramble done a piece on Leeds last week, the difference in their TV and commercial revenue is staggering, it would take a couple of hundred million to buy them off.

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44 minutes ago, Bobby Hundreds said:

Have we been given a valid reason yet why next season, a season unplayed with nothing invested in it yet takes precedent over a season 75 percent complete with insane amounts of money, time and work invested into it already. Is this season itself contagious.

 

I'm  still 100 percent convinced it will be voided, the whispering and appetite for it will grow.  

It won’t be voided. You explained why in your first paragraph.

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54 minutes ago, Bobby Hundreds said:

Have we been given a valid reason yet why next season, a season unplayed with nothing invested in it yet takes precedent over a season 75 percent complete with insane amounts of money, time and work invested into it already. Is this season itself contagious.

 

I'm  still 100 percent convinced it will be voided, the whispering and appetite for it will grow.  

Yes, the reason is it stops Liverpool being crowned Champions. Oh and apparently it will save lives stopping this one and starting the next for some obscure and 'less important' reason.

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From The Athletic
 

Explaining what UEFA’s message means for European places, titles and relegation. 
 

 

In the context of the world’s longest and worst spring break, two press releases from football governing bodies in the space of 24 hours have provided the most exciting sporting action in 40 days.

 

First, on Thursday, UEFA hit send on the snappily-titled “Executive Committee approves guidelines on eligibility for participation to UEFA competitions” — 500 well-timed words to settle seasons, satisfy accountants and soothe (some) supporters. Cue the popping of corks from Bruges to Glasgow, howling gusts of relief from Liverpool to Watford and the birth of a thousand conspiracy theories against your club.

 

But then on Friday, just as the clocks were turning to Aperol Spritz o’clock, the Dutch FA announced there would be no champions in the Netherlands this season nor promotions nor relegations. Cue the sound of a needle scratching vinyl, cheers turning to murmurs and glasses smashing.

 

Not seeing it? Don’t worry, The Athletic has studied the film, coded the clips, run a statistical model and is now ready to explain what on God’s green earth is going on…

 

What did UEFA decide, exactly?

 

The short answer is it has decided nothing: nada, rien, nichts, niente etc. The slightly longer answer is it has realised it cannot decide anything at the moment as tackling the COVID-19 crisis is above its pay-grade, so it should perhaps accept the very best it can do is issue guidelines, empty its reserves and hope for the best.

 

What this means in practice is that it has told its 55 member associations they should try to finish their “top domestic competitions” as best they can but if that is not possible, because their governments will not let them on public health grounds or attempting to do so will bankrupt them, they should choose the teams they want to put forward for European club competition next season, whenever that is, on the basis of “sporting merit”.

 

Great, we love sport, what do they have in mind?

 

Ah, they don’t really say. In keeping with the vagueness of these times, they only suggest that whatever method a league chooses, it must be “objective, transparent and non-discriminatory”, with the further wrinkle that it should have regard “to the specific circumstances of each competition”.

 

They do say, however, what they will not accept.

 

Do not terminate your competition “prematurely” for any other reason than a public health order from your government or clear and present danger of financial ruin. Do not send us a list of clubs you want to play in the Champions League or Europa League next season that have not been selected according to sporting merit and in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory manner. And do not do anything that might result in the “public perception of unfairness”.
 

A list of things we can’t do, then? Typical Europe. Do they give any clues?

 

Not publicly but that is largely because there are not that many options available. UEFA and every national football federation and domestic league know that. 
 

We are in least-bad option territory and European football’s clubs, leagues, governing bodies and players’ representatives have been mulling these over in working groups for six weeks.

 

Option A is to play all remaining games, with or without fans present, so that every club has played everyone else, home and away, ending any debates about games in hand, big-match experience, surging or waning form, injuries, bad luck and all the other what-ifs and maybes.

 

Option B is end the season now and either use the current standings to divvy out the qualification places or iron out the issue of games in hand by adjusting the table on a points-per-game basis. Another possibility, albeit a remote one, would be to decide any unplayed games on the basis of the first fixture between the respective teams this season, making that a retrospective double-header. That is the type of thing that causes fights in pub leagues, so it is unlikely.

 

Option C is to look at the table and/or points-per-game calculation and come up with a play-off or two to decide who goes into the Champions League or Europa League hat for 2021-22.

 

Option D, and we are getting close to the bottom of the barrel here, is to run some kind of data-based simulation of the remaining fixtures, Football Manager-style, and save everyone the trouble of moving into a sterile environment for two months, getting tested twice a day and running about a lot.

 

Soccernomics author Dr Stefan Szymanski proposed one such probability-based model on his Twitter feed on Thursday, provoking a lively response from Sheffield United fans unimpressed at seeing their side fall from sixth to 10th behind the underachieving Spurs, Arsenal and Everton, as well as Wolves, who would also leapfrog them on points per game.

 

As things stand, we can also dismiss option E: using UEFA’s club coefficient, the rolling five-year ranking of performances in Europe, as a means to deciding who should qualify for next year’s tournaments. 

 

Anything that would see, let’s say, Arsenal and Spurs elbowing aside Leicester and Wolves, would probably lead to the “public perception of unfairness”. But a week is a long time in a lockdown, so do not be too shocked if this idea resurfaces, particularly in north London.

 

And then there really is the bottom of the barrel: null and void. A combination of words so toxic the Premier League’s communications department has been banned from using it ever since West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady breezily suggest it in her newspaper column last month. The fact that only goal difference is keeping her side out of the relegation zone is entirely coincidental, of course.

 

The Dutch, however, are famed for their pragmatism and when prime minister Mark Rutte announced earlier this week that large public gatherings were banned until September 1, the writing was on the wall for the 2019-20 season.

 

So the country’s football federation, the KNVB, asked the clubs to vote on whether the current tables should stand, with titles, promotions and relegations decided on that basis, or if there should be no promotions and relegations this season. 

 

The result, it claims, was inconclusive, so they made the call, immediately sending shockwaves along the M62 from Leeds to Liverpool.

 

Points per game was always going to be a tough sell in the Eredivisie, as Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were locked on 56 points with nine games to play when the league was suspended. Ajax topped the table, thanks to their better goal difference, but AZ had the momentum, having beaten the Dutch giants in Amsterdam on March 1.

 

AZ, chasing what would be only their third Dutch title, quickly issued a terse statement, saying they do not agree with the decision. Ajax, on the other hand, have tweeted “First place, that’s it…” with a picture of the team celebrating and a caption saying “the season is done, top of the table but no championship”.

 

It could have been their 35th national title but they seem happy enough to count this one, too

 

Will this pass UEFA’s test of perceived unfairness? 
 

Good question!

 

As of Friday evening, nobody seemed quite sure. UEFA knew the Dutch season was over when it issued its guidelines on Thursday and several sources told The Athletic they thought this meant null and void was off the table for the big leagues.

 

According to the KNVB statement, it was impossible to finish the season, public safety must come first and whatever decision they took in regard to the final tables in the Eredivisie, second-tier Eerste Divisie and further down the pyramid, somebody would be unhappy.

 

They were certainly right about that. As mentioned, AZ have already expressed their views, while Cambuur head coach Henk de John, whose side was 11 points clear at the top of the Eerste Divisie, has described it as the “biggest disgrace in the history of Dutch sport”.

 

If they are main losers here, RKC Waalwijk surely cannot believe their luck, 11 points from guaranteed safety in last place in the top flight.

 

Their managing director Frank van Mosselveld told the club’s website that they got the decision they hoped for, which was nice, thanked the KNVB for providing “clarity”, acknowledged it was a “difficult decision” and tried to draw a line under the circumstances of their great escape by reminding everyone of the “bigger game going on in the world”.

 

But that is one for the Dutch to debate. UEFA does not care about Cambuur or Waalwijk, not like that, anyway.

 

It will care, though, about the list of clubs KNVB is putting forward for European competition next season: Ajax and AZ Alkmaar in the Champions League and the teams in positions three through five in the table, Feyenoord, PSV and Willem II, in the Europa League.

 

We already know what AZ think about that but spare a thought for FC Utrecht, three points behind Willem II, with a game in hand and a far better goal difference. If that is not a hard enough kick in the nether regions, bear in mind that they beat Ajax 2-0 in the KNVB Cup semi-final seven weeks ago to set up a final against Feyenoord. So they had two great shots at European qualification. No wonder they have said the decision “is not accepted” and have threatened to sue their federation.

 

That would appear to put UEFA in a tricky position in terms of public perception.

 

OK, so how does UEFA want leagues to finish their seasons? 

 

Option A, definitely, play the games, for billions of TV contract, sponsorship and avoided lawsuit reasons. But if we have learnt anything over the last few weeks, it is that what we want and what we will have to get used to are two very different things.

 

Ideally, UEFA wants the domestic seasons to finish by the first weekend in August so it can complete this season’s Champions League and Europa League in a three-week festival of football and take a couple of weeks off to reset before starting the 2020-21 seasons in mid-September, and wrapping that season up at the end of next May. This would enable the rescheduled Euro 2020 to start in June 2021.

 

But this schedule is based on a lot of best-case scenarios and assumptions.

 

It needs the Bundesliga to prove you can seal off a professional sports league in the middle of a pandemic. It needs the public health services of Italy, Spain and the UK to say they are OK with idea of some very non-essential physical exercise starting up again. And it needs Sweden to prove its “herd immunity” strategy has worked.

 

None of these provisos is under UEFA’s control. It cannot tell a country that professional footballers should be bumped up the list of those who need to be tested or that hospitals need to be on standby to deal with broken legs. And that is even before you consider the possibility of fresh outbreaks and second waves because a player, coach, cameraman or security guard caught the virus at a supermarket and brought it with them to the game.

 

UEFA is not daft. It knows this. But it also knows if it has to go to court with any of its broadcast or commercial partners, it better be able to prove it tried everything it could to get these games played, as laid out in the contracts. Every league in Europe knows this, too.

 

And that brings us to real significance of Thursday’s statement. Only a week after telling the Belgians they could not end their season and give Club Bruges the title, the team having a 15-point lead with one game to play, UEFA has now acknowledged that Belgium (and Scotland and all the other countries keeping their powder dry) can officially call time on this season and proceed to the next row.

 

Which is? 

 

Which of options B to D they least dislike. As stated above, UEFA does not care who gets promoted or relegated but the big leagues can hardly decide who comes first through sixth, without also deciding who comes last.

 

For example, it is one thing to give Club Bruges their 17th national title and a place in the penultimate round of qualifying for the Champions League group stages. They cannot be caught and have earned it. 

 

But it is another to tell Charleroi they have to settle for the Europa League, despite being only a point behind second-placed Gent. Charleroi’s final, unplayed game is at home to Kortrijk, who have nothing to play for, while Gent go to Waasland-Beveren, who could avoid relegation with a victory.

 

Is points per game fair? 

 

Not really but then neither is acute respiratory failure and there is a lot of that going about.

 

When we look at the English and Scottish top flights, we have runaway leaders but they are not home and hosed like Club Bruges. Liverpool need six more points from nine games to seal their first league championship for 30 years, while Celtic require 15 points from eight games to make a ninth-straight title mathematically certain.

 

Liverpool’s imperious form this season and huge lead over Manchester City means there will not be too many grumbles about giving them the title on an average points basis, reverse-fixture method, bookmakers’ odds or any other simulation. 

 

But we know Sheffield United will not take kindly to losing their European slot to Wolves, or anyone else for that matter, while the six-into-three relegation conundrum is a whole different headache. 

 

Aston Villa, in 19th, are just two points behind West Ham and Watford, 16th and 17th, respectively, but have 10 games to play, not nine, with six of those at home.

 

Rangers are threatening all manner of legal retribution if Celtic are handed the silverware without kicking another ball but Aberdeen will be rightly miffed if Motherwell keep the second Europa League slot despite being only a point ahead with eight games each to play. 

 

Hearts are adrift at the bottom of the table but not so far away that they could not save themselves while Partick Thistle have already been relegated to Scotland’s third tier even though they have a game in hand on the team one place above them, Queen of the South.

 

Pick a league, any league, and it does not take long to find somebody who bear a grudge if games still to be won and lost on the pitch are settled by calculators.

 

Are there any other options?

 

Yes, but only in the sense that there is no such thing as a bad idea now and even something that was shot down three weeks ago could return as the least painful solution.

 

Leaving aside null and void, which nobody wants to put their name to at the moment, perhaps the best example of this is the no-relegation-and-restructure option. The Scottish Professional Football League has already put together a committee, bizarrely comprised of clubs with the most to benefit from such a choice, to kick this idea about for a bit.

 

It has also been floated in England, too, with the basic premise being let us roll back the clock to 1995, when there were 22 teams in the Premier League: let Leeds United and West Brom up, reprieve Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth, and hope Fulham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and the half a dozen other teams in the play-off picture do not start a class action lawsuit.

 

This, of course, only kicks the fixture-congestion can down the road to next winter, when an already-shortened domestic season will have to accommodate four more rounds of Premier League matches.

 

But all of these options — from pushing the end of the season back for as long as it takes to pretending the season never even started — all depend, one way or another, on perhaps the biggest assumption of all: there will be a 2020-21 season.

 

That is not the same as asking if there will be a “next season”. Of course we will play, watch and enjoy football again.

 

As Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor told The Athletic this week, professional football has survived world wars and truly dreadful decades like the 1980s. “No politician wanted anything to do with football back then, but now they can’t wait to tell you which team they support or express an opinion on the game,” he noted.

 

But governments across Europe this week have been preparing their people for the idea that this lockdown is probably not the last and we will be alternating between states of social distancing until we have a vaccine for COVID-19, which is still probably a year away, at best.

 

We have also just started to see the fallout from the decisions to let huge numbers attend sporting occasions just as the coronavirus took its grip over the continent. How soon will you be ready to crowd into Anfield or Old Trafford again? Those clubs can probably live without the ticket, beer and burger revenue but can Macclesfield, Morecambe and Montrose?

 

It is hoped — and that is all it is at the moment — that an audience unable to attend live sport will be desperate for televised action, and, in that scenario, the value of live media rights goes up, not down.

 

But this hinges on teams having fixtures to play, players to play in them, broadcasters to buy the rights and use them, punters to have enough money to pay to watch them and sponsors to still be in business. An industry entirely dependent on broadcast income is also not an industry that is cut out for supporting an eco-system as complex and fragile as English football’s pyramid.

 

UEFA has not got to these existential questions yet — it can only fight one fire at a time — but it will have to eventually or it, and every other governing body, will find itself in charge of an empire in ruins.

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