Premier League 2019/20: Resume season or declare null and void?

Football across the globe has suffered a seismic shift on an unprecedented scale due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with numerous leagues across the world suspended indefinitely.

In the Premier League, it is the same situation after it was confirmed last week that the campaign would not resume in early May as initially planned – with no clear indication of what lies ahead.

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Many want the 2019-20 Premier League season to be completed, with FIFA willing to make the necessary changes to the calendar to around leagues across the globe to complete their campaigns at a later date, with Euro 2020 being postponed a year in order to European domestic competitions to be completed.

Conversely, many share the viewpoint that the season should be declared null and void, feeling it is morally wrong for football to even be contemplating a return to action, firmly believing the players safety has to be paramount. Manchester United defender Luke Shaw echoed these thoughts, believing it is best for the season to scrapped and declared null and void if it cannot be restarted.

“Scrap it and start again. Start it again,” Shaw said during the Combat Corona fundraiser for Unicef, a Fifa 20 competition streamed on Twitch. “It’s got to be. If we can’t carry it on, it’s got to be void.”

In an attempt to complete to remaining fixtures of the campaign, some Premier League clubs had proposed finishing the season by playing games without spectators. However, Shaw criticised this idea, emphasising supporters should be able to attend the games.

“Fans are so important. You realise it even more [now],” he said. “The sport is for fans really … if you don’t have fans, and you don’t play in front of fans, it just doesn’t feel right.

‘Especially on matchday the fans are always amazing and always help the team. Whether it’s home or even away our fans are always brilliant and I feel like they’re always there with us.”

If the season was to be abandoned, it would prevent Liverpool being crowned Premier League champions, while sparing Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City from relegation. In addition, Championship sides such as Leeds and West Brom would miss out on possible promotion to the top flight.

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This would undoubtedly be a highly controversial decision, while declaring the season null and void would also bring significant legal difficulties and financial implications. Conversely,  aiming to rearrange the remaining fixtures of the season in the summer months would provide to be a difficult challenge, especially with health experts warning that the worst of the virus is yet to hit the UK, meaning the Premier League may be forced into the decision that most clubs and supporters are dreading.

However, many strongly believe the only fair way of dealing with the matter is to finish it when it is safe. In the spirit of sporting fairness and maintaining the integrity of the competition, is important to honour the season so far by completing it. There isn’t a perfect solution but the season has to be finished before the next one starts. Otherwise, the 2019/20 Premier League will have merely been in vain.

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