|Image Source: DailyMail.co.uk|
The Premier League along with all major leagues in Europe have postponed all football matches until the 4th of April in response to the dangerously spreading Coronavirus. All matches, including our Premier League game against Spurs, our FA Cup game against Norwich City and the second leg of the Europa League game against LASK will be postponed. The new dates and schedule hasn’t been released yet and will be made available when there is more control over the pandemic in hand.
Thousands have died of the COVID-19 and thousands more are infected. This is a disease that spreads through human contact which makes stadiums a massive red flag. In response to this, the leagues started playing games behind closed doors and avoiding handshakes. However, this virus still found a way to creep into the footballing world. Juventus’ Daniele Rugani became the first top-flight footballer to get infected followed by Manolo Gabbiadini. Last night Arsenal confirmed that their manager, Mikel Arteta, has been tested positive and the entire squad will be kept in isolation for the time being. This could have happened as the Arsenal team was in contact with the Olympiakos owner on the day of their Europa League game with them, who later tested positive.
Shortly after, Chelsea announced that Calum Hudson-Odoi has also tested positive. Several clubs like Real Madrid, Leicester City and Everton have taken precautionary measures after their players or staff members have displayed symptoms of the Coronavirus. Teams like Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have called off training sessions to avoid the potential spread as well. These precautions have caused the FA to change their decision which previously was that all the games would go on as planned with the fans in attendance.
The English FA took a long time to act especially considering that all other leagues were making decisions quick and fast. The midweek Champions League game between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid was a huge lapse in judgement by all the authorities involved. Spain has about 1600 cases of Coronavirus with about 800 of them being in Madrid. Despite this, thousands of Atletico Madrid fans travelled to Liverpool and stood in close contact with about fifty thousand people. This is how the Coronavirus spreads to a larger base and as unfortunate as it is, a rise in cases in the northern region of England can be expected.
What are the implications?
As it stands, it is very difficult to predict the imminent future of the footballing world because of the lack of control and uncertainty of the situation right now. There are a few possible scenarios but any scenario involving a postponement (which has already happened) gets even more complicated with the upcoming Euros this summer.
The first scenario is that the league gets declared void, with no winners and no relegation. European spots will be declared based on last season’s table. While most clubs will consider this as a good situation, it is unfair to clubs like Liverpool, Sheffield United, Leicester City and Leeds United who have done very well this season and won’t reap the rewards for their efforts.
The next scenario is that the league ends as it is and all awards, promotions and relegations are given based on the current standings. This will please clubs will Liverpool, Watford and West Ham United but it becomes unfair to clubs like Sheffield United, Manchester United and Bournemouth. We are touching distance from the fourth place and after the Spurs game, have a run of easy fixtures. With our current run of form, it seemed like a ray of hope but ending the season at this stage will seem unfair to clubs in our situation.
The third scenario would be to postpone the Euros and play the leagues through the summer. This would seem like a good result for everyone but it is a logistical nightmare. A lot of money has been spent on the Euros and postponing it by a year will cause a lot of monetary problems. Also, the other issue is that there is no guarantee that this pandemic will be resolved by this summer. And it is resolved, it will hamper with the transfer window and players won’t get the adequate rest before the next season begins.
No matter the scenario, there will be one set of fans that will be unhappy and who’ll just have to deal with it. But that is what happens when an unforeseeable circumstance occurs and mars the rhythm of our schedule and nothing can be done about it now. That said, rivalry aside, I hope Liverpool don’t get the title and that should make our summers lovely! Anyway, stay safe!