Soccer around the world has been shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has brought chaos to scheduling, and headaches for those responsible for figuring out how to properly continue and conclude domestic seasons.
The Premier League is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday to decide what happens next, and given the projected effects of the pandemic, there is a good chance the 2019-20 season does not continue. So, European leagues can choose to end their seasons by declaring current champions, and perhaps freezing relegation, or they can completely void this season as if it never happened.
But the best solution is to actually finish the European seasons by playing the remaining games—even if they are played many weeks or months from now. There is no point in starting a new season in August if the current ones have not been completed.
In addition to avoiding damage to the integrity of the sport, this would give teams proper closure on this campaign, including Liverpool, who would forever have an asterisk beside any potential title win this season if they didn’t play all the games. It’s only fair and proper that the seasons are concluded with the full amount of games. So, how do we finish off the European seasons properly, without causing a significant knock-on effect?
Well, if Euro 2020 is postponed or canceled—which it surely has to be, at this point—the remaining 10 or so games can be scheduled for whenever it is safe to play again. No matter when that is. Then, depending on timing, Europe’s league can either role straight into the new season or agree to play a shortened season in 2020-21. After all, it is much fairer that a shorter season is agreed in advance, rather than imposing one near the end of a campaign.
Another alternative, which might sound radical, is to finish out this season and then switch to an MLS-style summer schedule for 2021 and 2022. Not only does this help for scheduling, but it will put European domestic league perfectly in line to finish before the 2022 World Cup, which is scheduled for winter 2022.
There are no easy answers here. The different leagues will likely reach different conclusions, and we don’t know the timelines. But the fact is, that the current European seasons must be allowed to finish completely, no matter when that happens, or what happens to the seasons that follow.
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