Sky Sports pundit John Barnes has given his verdict on one of the controversial season-ending ideas which would impact on Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, namely arbitrarily handing out titles, promotions and relegations based on where teams are now in their respective tables.
English football has ground to a standstill and speculation has been raging over how to see out the 2019-20 campaign, and some of the options up for debate include rendering the season null and void, declaring it finished as things stand, and seeing the remaining fixtures out, either behind closed doors or once it’s safer to do so.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds and Slaven Bilic’s West Brom are currently first and second in the Championship table, though Fulham are just six points behind the Baggies with nine fixtures to go, so the conclusion isn’t as foregone as that of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table.
Although Barnes is a Liverpool legend, he doesn’t feel that Jurgen Klopp’s charges should just be arbitrarily handed the title, given the precedent it would set further down the pyramid, where things are a lot more complicated.
“If you are going to give Liverpool the title, then who would get promoted and relegated? You can’t just give Liverpool the title because we are so far ahead,” Barnes told Sky Sports.
“What would Leeds and West Brom say? What would Fulham say if they don’t come up and you promote those two? Do the bottom three in the Premier League not get relegated?
“Safety is the most important thing so allow this season to take as long as it does, there’s no need to rush back as you are delaying Euros to 2021. If you have to play one game a week from October, and mean the season goes on until next January or February, then you can kick-start the next season at the right time rather than play catch-up for years.”
Given the unprecedented halt in proceedings due to an unprecedented health crisis, the number one priority is to keep people safe, but at the same time, the question of what to do with the various competitions needs to be resolved.
It’s a very controversial issue as every possible solution proposed has pros and cons which are bound to affect at least some clubs adversely, and so it’s not a decision that can be taken lightly.
The personal view of the TBR writer is to see the 2019-20 season out when it’s safe to do so, even if it has to be in the summer – it’s important that the campaign, and its permutations, can be fulfilled as intended.