Virus dilemma: Let football season resume

Saturday March 21 2020



Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. 

By Allan Ssekamatte

Of all scenarios being bandied around as the most appropriate reaction to the forced break occasioned on Premier League football by the coronavirus, the most universally appeasing is cancellation of the season; award of the title to Liverpool, Champions League places to the top four sides in the standings as at March 14, banishing of relegation and promotion of the top two sides from the Championship.

There wouldn’t be any real losers. Only regrets from Manchester United who feel they had garnered enough momentum to dislodge Chelsea from fourth spot, and to a less extent Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Marcelo Bielsa’s stylish Leeds United and Slaven Bilic’s West Bromwich Albion - currently odds on favourites for promotion, would be the principal beneficiaries of an expanded 22 team top flight league.
Problem with such a scenario is that it’s unsporting. In real sport, there are no such freebies. We must have winners and losers, joy and sadness, plus tears and laughs.

Besides, the four teams occupying third to sixth in the Championship would feel hard done by as they too are dreaming of a £100m windfall that comes with promotion.
Besides, it’s a scenario that can’t be replicated in La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga because the contest for the title is much closer.
The more difficult but fairer option is to postpone the Euro 2020 tournament for a year and use the freed time to complete fixtures.
Pushing a national team tournament for a year certainly has less legal ramifications than denying a team its title or postponing promotion from the Championship for a season.

In addition, the nine remaining EPL fixtures can be spread over a month. After all, a game after every 72 hours is usually played during the festive Christmas-New Year festive season.
Japan has already announced that the Olympic Games are to go ahead inspite of the Covid-19 virus. Organisers of the summer games in the Land Of The Rising Sun are confident they will have tamed the virus by July 24 when the global event is due to commence.

Japan’s boldness and China’s resilience before them, in taming the rampaging pandemic, is testament sporting seasons across the globe can and ought to be saved.
You only need to take closer note of the speed with which afflicted athletes like Chelsea’s Callum Hudson Odoi, Ezekiel Garay, Eliaquim Mangala and even Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta have recuperated from Covid-19 to appreciate that football must continue.
Let’s have the Premier League resume on April 4, even if it’s played in empty stadia until the start of May.

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