Ending the 2019/20 season safely – but fairly – is giving football’s governing bodies a right old headache at the moment.
They have to keep their players and coaching staff safe while being sensitive to the mood of the public – football isn’t a major factor in peoples’ lives at the moment with so many affected.
But there are financial concerns of not finishing the campaign, and the losses that would incur.
These are unprecedented times, and football has never experienced anything like it before. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer to the conundrum at the moment.
Ligue 1 in France has been the first of the continent’s major competitions to stick their head above the parapet. The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) has decided to end the season with immediate effect, despite there being ten rounds of matches still to play. Some teams had played 27 games and others 28, so a points-per-game system was used to calculate the final standings.
It means that PSG have been confirmed as champions – there won’t be many arguments there, but other clubs have a major grievance. Lyon finished in seventh, according to the voided table, and thus won’t be playing in Europe next season.
At the other end of proceedings, Amiens and Toulouse will be relegated – and the former’s president was less than impressed with the decision.
Bernard Joannin has threatened legal action against the LFP, commenting on the ‘injustice’ that Amiens were not able to defend their top-flight status on the pitch.
“I’ll fight with all the teams to assert our right, because I think this decision isn’t right. We will wait for the minutes of the LFP board of directors.”
In response, the French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said the affected parties were free to take them on the courts, but suggested acceptance might be for the best.
“If they want to go to court, let them go,” she said. “In this situation, there are some who are content and some who are dissatisfied.
“I appeal to everyone’s solidarity and responsibility. I appeal to the wealthy and better off that they don’t split hairs….we must also think of others and society. The world must know how to take its losses.”
Should the Premier League be unable to return and the campaign voided, there is the possibility that Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth would also be relegated – the Cherries by a single goal.
A Law Unto Themselves
Taking their cue from the French, the Dutch Eredivisie has also been declared null and void for 2019/20.
But the Dutch football association (KNVB) has gone about things rather differently, refusing to crown a champion with Ajax and AZ Alkmaar both locked on points at the top of the table.
No clubs will be relegated either, and that has prompted fury from Cambuur, who were eleven points clear at the top of the second tier and who won’t be promoted to the top-flight.
Their director, Ard de Graaf, has already spoken of legal action of his own, and the outcry is such that the KNVB has admitted that they are considering reversing the decision to ward off the threat of the situation spiralling out of control.
Such is the financial disarray in Dutch football the KNVB has asked the government for a £350 million bailout, and a prominent politician in the Netherlands – Mark Boumans – has suggested that reversing the decision is a possibility.
“I even think it can be reversed,” Boumans said. “My conclusion is that if half of the clubs plus one want to reverse the outcome of this week’s chaotic decision making, then that is possible.”