According to a recent report by The Telegraph (Paid Subscription Required), there is a real possibility of the 19/20 Premier League campaign being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Liverpool could still be handed the title at the end of the season. The report claims that none of the other Premier League sides are expected to object to the FA’s impending decision to hand the Reds the title, but the real issues could start when they begin to discuss the format of play for next season.
It has been suggested that one of the solution ideas currently in place involves a 22-team tournament next season, with the top two from the EFL Championship getting promoted to the top-flight as well. This would mean that there will be no relegation from the Premier League itself this season, thereby opening up space for five teams to be relegated and three teams to be promoted as usual at the end of the proposed 22-team campaign.
It has also been claimed that the EFL Cup could be scrapped next year, to make time for the extra matches that would have to be accommodated.
How Would This New Format Affect The Various Teams In The League?
Liverpool fans would obviously be the happiest about the situation at hand since they are likely to be given the title at the end of the season, irrespective of whether we get any more league action this term. Below them too, the likes of Chelsea will be more than happy to finish the season early, considering that it has been reported that the teams who qualified for Europe last season could keep their place.
The other teams currently in European spots – Leicester City, Wolves and Manchester United, could be forced to participate in a playoff to decide the qualifiers. More worryingly though, the relatively smaller clubs in the league could have a much bigger task than usual next season. Not only will the competition be high, but the difference in points between the sides could also become smaller, thereby creating some tight situations at the bottom along the way.
A team like Sheffield United could argue that they were destined to finish their first season back in the Premier League in the top half of the table. At the same time, they could also advocate that the serial strugglers in Aston Villa and Norwich City are being given an undeserved second opportunity. With that said though, it must be conceded that Championship sides Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion certainly deserve a place in the top-flight next season.
Is This New League Format Realistically Achievable?
Although there were talks of declaring the season null and void, there’s no denying that Liverpool have been the deserving winners of the title right from the opening weeks of the campaign. Although a small minority within the league could argue the decision, it does seem like the best option going forward. The fact that the lower leagues are all dependant on the Premier League to continue is something that seems to slip the minds of all top-flight representatives. If a 22-team format can satisfy a majority of the parties involved in the decision, it’s one that the FA should go for next season.