UEFA decision could help Leeds to promotion
Tuesday, 17th Mar 2020 21:20 by Tim Whelan
UEFA announced today that Euro 2020 will become Euro 2021, which could free up enough space in the calendar to get the domestic season finished.
UEFA announced the decision after a meeting with all 55 member nations today and also offered guidance on the remaining club fixtures for leagues across the continent after speaking to representatives of the European Club Association , European Leagues and FIFPRO Europe (the players' union). They hope to finish the 2019/20 season by 30 June at the latest.
The decision was almost inevitable, and it turns out that UEFA picked completely the wrong summer to change the format of the finals to one spread over the whole continent, which at best will now be a time when the travel industry will be struggling to get back to normal after a period when we have all been told to cut down on travel unless absolutely necessary.
My inner cynic can’t help wondering if UEFA’s real priority is their precious and lucrative Champions League, rather than the Euro finals. They will want to finish this season’s tournament and also get the domestic leagues completed to ensure that they can legitimate hold another one next season with teams who have legitimately qualified for it.
But of course it remains to be see if we can complete the current season by June 30th, as the coronavirus outbreak might not peak until the summer months, so that could be way too soon to get things back to normal. Which leaves English football to squabble about how to resolve the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.
I can’t help being reminded of something dear old Ken Bates said when Chelsea reached the FA Cup final for the first time in many years in 1994. He said he had received many different suggestions from fans as to how Chelsea could distribute their allocation of tickets, all of which were designed to benefit the circumstances of the person making the suggestion.
It’s very much the same in the present difficult times, with all the clubs affected putting the case for the solution that would suit them best. The clubs in danger of relegation from the Premier are adamant there must be no relegation if the season is completed, led by West Ham’s Karren Brady and Aston Villa sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch.
But that idea has of course gone down like a lead balloon with those of us near the top of the Championship, and the Times have reported that the current top six could join forces and take legal action if the season is abandoned with no promotion taking place. And today all 24 clubs in the Championship met and agreed that they want to complete the current season, according to Ian Dennis of the BBC.
The Football League themselves are meeting tomorrow, with the Premier League doing likewise on Thursday to discuss a range of potential outcomes. This might include the 22-team Premier League idea that has been suggested in some quarters, with WBA and Leeds promoted and no relegation. But it seems for now Leeds prefer to maintain solidarity with the rest of the division rather than backing a plan that would upset those in and around the play-off places.
One other plan that is doing the rounds is that if necessary the current season could run into the autumn, with 2020/1 starting in October or November. 2021/2 would have to do likewise, which sounds a little bit barmy, but has the big advantage that it accommodates the need for top domestic football to take a break in November 2022 while the Qatar World Cup takes place in the cooler months.
That’s another plan that would benefit Leeds, so perhaps the Qataris will have helped us even before their much vaunted investment in the club. But I’d just be happy with any outcome that ends with Leeds being promoted, either with the ’22 club’ idea, or the season managing to reach a conclusion, And at least we can take heart from today’s announcement from UEFA, which makes that a little bit more likely.
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