Soccer, To Be or Not To Be?

England’s Premier League Ponders Plan for Restarting Play

The+future+of+the+European+soccer+league+is+in+question+due+to+concerns+about+keeping+players+and+their+families+safe+from+coronavirus+infection.

Image from cardiff.ac.uk

The future of the European soccer league is in question due to concerns about keeping players and their families safe from coronavirus infection.

As we all know, coronavirus has brought the whole world to a standstill, including sports. Now, it’s a good time to take a look at how our neighbors across the ocean are dealing with coronavirus in their sports. One of the affected sports is the top flight of the English soccer league, the Premier League.

The Premier League is the top league in English football or soccer. It has 20 teams, and the bottom three teams go down to the league below it while the top three teams from the league below go up. Everyone plays each other twice, and whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins. 

One idea is to just cancel the season. This idea doesn’t have a ton of support, but it would give Liverpool the title.”

— Ian Reno, Knightly News Reporter

Along with winning the league, there are positions in the Premier League, or places as they’re called, that get a team into European competitions. The winner of the league and the next three best teams get into the big European competition, the Champions League. The next three best teams after the four best teams get into the lower European competition, the Europa League. But of course, as with all things, coronavirus has brought the league to a halt. 

Before the league was stopped after matchday 29, the league’s teams were in a very close competition for places, except for the team in first place. The difference between first and second place is 25 points, more than eight wins back. Even before the COVID outbreak, it was common knowledge that first place Liverpool would go on to win the league.

The real issue for getting the league started isn’t that first place would be up for grabs. It’s who will be sent down to a lower division and who will get to Europe. For instance, the team in eighteenth place is tied on points with the two teams above it, and the team below them is only one win away from jumping those three teams. The battle for European spots is also close with the difference between fourth and eleventh places only being nine points or three wins. 

What are the ideas being put out to get the 92 fixtures done? One idea is to just cancel the season. This idea doesn’t have a ton of support, but it would give Liverpool the title. The only problem with this approach is determining how European and relegation spots would be decided. Another idea that has been put forward is calculating the average points-per-game and giving out places with that. Implementing this plan would require teams to play behind closed doors like they started to do in Germany. This would mean that most teams would need to come back at least a month before the games to be ready for the season.

Jurgen Klopp, current Liverpool manager, said on the matter, “How can you think about football when there are people dying out there? But like any other branch we must prepare for the time after because it will come. And for football, this means that we start training at one point. And unique measures are taken to ensure the safety of everyone.” This. of course, was on the mind of many when the final decision was made. 

Luckily for the Prem, the UK government gave the go-ahead to resume games behind closed doors on June 1. This would entail every game being played with no fans. This would require testing absolutely everyone involved with a game; and if one person had COVID-19, it would delay the restart. Another problem is that some players are reluctant to return due to concerns about their safety and their families’ safety. Additionally, player contracts run out at the end of June; and there is no clear plan as to where the games would be played. Even with the problems faced, the Premier League and its owners have decided to move forward with the clubs voting unanimously to start training in small groups. 

It is great to know that even through the chaos, we could still have sports to entertain us. If you would like to know more about the Premier League you can go to Sky Sports, ESPN, The Guardian, NBCSN or other sources for more information.