Staggeringly this week the Premier League clubs for the first time began tentative talks over the possibility that the global pandemic could force the top flight of English football to abandon the 2019/20 season without completing the remaining fixtures.
All the conversation so far had been surrounding the options available for “project restart“.
So what options are the Premier League reportedly considering to decide, on sporting merit, how the final standing of the top division will look?
This will decide who are crowned champions, who qualifies for both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League and who would be relegated from the Premier League to the Championship.
The options include the crude option of just going with the standings as the season was suspended in March, points per game option, a weighted point per game option or winding back the clock to game week 27 or game week 19 to decide the season on actual standings without it being skewed by some teams playing more games than others.
So how will these options affect the 20 clubs involved in the so-called best league in the world?
Current standings would see Liverpool win the Premier League, their first title for 30 years, Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea would all qualify for the UEFA Champions League, Wolverhampton Wanderers qualify for the UEFA Europa League, with Sheffield United entering in the qualifying rounds – Unless Manchester City are banned from European qualification and then Manchester United are bumped up into the Champions League and Tottenham Hotspur enter the Europa League mix.
Norwich City, Aston Villa and AFC Bournemouth are relegated, assuming three places are relegated, if a French model is adopted and play-offs are abandoned then potentially two clubs could be relegated and AFC Bournemouth would avoid relegation.
With Liverpool just a few points away from clinching the Premier League table, all scenario’s understandably see Liverpool crowned champions.
As none of the options look into the difficulty of each sides games remaining, Brighton & Hove Albion, the only club in the bottom six without a win in their last five fixtures, who are just two points clear of the relegation zone, with the theoretically the hardest run-in are safe from relegation in all scenarios.
Points Per Game the system is simple points earned divided by games played. This would result in nearly every position remaining the same as the current standings, the only changes would be Wolverhampton Wanderers would lose 6th place to Sheffield United and Arsenal would leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur for 8th. The same scenario’s regarding Manchester City’s position in UEFA competitions then still remain.
The relegation places would be unchanged despite Aston Villa having a game in hand and only being two points adrift the safety positions with ten games remaining. AFC Bournemouth would remain in 18th a position that could be safe depending on whether it is three or two clubs that are relegated.
Weighted Points Per Game appears to be the favoured option in England and has already been used in Rugby Union, the English Football League could also use this method to decide League One and Two if those competitions are formally abandoned. The system is simple, instead of points per game divided by games played, it is done by points per game earned at home matches and away matches. As per the points per game option above, Wolverhampton Wanderers would lose 6th place to Sheffield United and Arsenal would leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur for 8th.
However, the relegation places would change. Once again Norwich City and Aston Villa would fill the bottom two places, however, AFC Bournemouth would jump West Ham United, seeing West Ham United relegated under a three-team go down scenario, but again would remain safe if only two clubs are relegated.
Rollback to the halfway point (Game week 19) remains the only option on the table which takes into account sporting merit on the pitch at a stage where each club has played every club just once. There is no artificial algorithm to decide hypothetical form continuing over the next 9 or 10 games. All clubs will have lost some home and away advantage of certain sides.
In comparison to the current as it stands table, there are no changes amongst the top eight, that would affect European qualification.
A financial matter would occur for some mid-table clubs, Arsenal would be inline to lose around £12.5million for dropping five places and losing competition fee income. Newcastle United, however, would earn an additional £10million in this scenario.
The relegation places would again change. Norwich City remain in 20th, but the second relegation slot would be filled by Watford. The third relegation position would be Aston Villa, which would see them avoid the drop if only two clubs are relegated. AFC Bournemouth would also avoid a return to the Championship.
Rollback to Game week 27 is an idea to try and keep the sporting merit of the most amount of games already played during the 2019/20 season, without giving a disadvantage to Aston Villa and Manchester City who had competed in the League Cup Final.
Tottenham Hotspur would leapfrog both Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers in this scenario, the only change affecting European competition.
The relegation places would change once more with Norwich City and Watford again taking the bottom two positions and relegation, the third slot would again be filled by West Ham United, with Aston Villa and AFC Bournemouth guaranteed safety.
So what option do you think is best?
How should the Premier League table be decided?
As it stands - Points Per Game
Weighted Points Per Game for Home and Away
Half Way Standings
Standings after Gameweek 27
Although I was hoping they’d void the season with no relegation the Premier League seem very keen to have relegation one way or the other. Perhaps because they don’t want to divide up next seasons spoils across 22 teams instead of 20.
If we’d drawn at home to Burnley and beat Sheff Utd :- + 3 points we’d be safe.
As it is I reckon they’d look to relegate little old Bournemouth.
So let’s try and restart the season. All being well we will get off to a flying start and draw away from the bottom but I’d be surprised if we complete the fixtures as I think we’ll get a second wave of Covid-19. – Join the conversation, click here.