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Will this Season Get Finished
Thursday, 12th Mar 2020 21:26

The football fixture list will continue for the time being, but will it be able to come to a conclusion before the end of the season and what are the likely options.

It might tickle some Saints supporters fancies for Liverpool to to end up not being Premier League Champions come May even if it takes a pandemic to stop their steamrollering of the rest of the Premier League so far, but what is the likelihood of that and what are the options for the footballing authorities.

The Government has announced that sporting events will continue go the foreseeable future, however they have admitted that this could change as the pandemic reaches a critical stage predicted to be between 1-2 months away when they will want to be able to divert vital resources when the crisis is at it's peak.

At Thursday's press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK will move to the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle the virus.

There have been 596 confirmed cases across the UK, and 10 deaths.

"We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures," said Johnson.

"The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread - but it does place a burden on other public services."

"We are guided by the science; there is no medical reason at the moment to ban such events.

"We are not saying no to that sort of measure, we are keeping it up our sleeves. But it is very, very important in order to maximise our interventions that we get the timing right."

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said cancelling sporting events is not a "major way to tackle this epidemic".

"Of course there is a risk," he said. "But on average one person infects two or three others.

"You therefore have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium, or a rather higher probability of infecting people very close to you, and that means most of the transmission tends to takes place with friends and colleagues in close environments, not in the big environments.

"It is true that any cancellations of things can have some effect (but) if you then get a displacement activity, when everyone congregates somewhere else, you may have perversely an increased risk, particularly in an indoors environment.

"So it doesn't mean you should at some point make the decision for the resilience point that has been discussed, but this is not a major way to tackle this epidemic.

"The major ways are to try and reduce and delay the transmission across households and people who have become infected and that why that is the concentration of the first actions."

So what are the options for the season, Liverpool will of course hope that they have got over the finishing line before the season is likely to be disrupted and although it would be easy for the Premier League to crown them Champions if they do that, there will be more pressing problems at the bottom.

Option one would be to suspend the season indefinitely and if this happens it is likely that they could opt to then wipe it clean as if it didn't exist as that would sort out a few problems not least Liverpool's likely legal challenge to that and of course the club's likely to be promoted who would now face another year in the Championship.

There would also be legal issues if the Premier League then made the final table the one in force at the time that football was suspended.

So perhaps the most likely scenario is that the season would be completed behind closed doors, certainly this would be an option the government would support in that with people in isolation there is a need to entertainment on the television.

I have spoken to one source who has said that plans are already afoot for this occurrence, but there would be issues with broadcasting on Sky or BT in that having gathering in pubs to watch the game would create a bigger health risk than actually having a crowd in the stadium.

So the likelihood is that games would be broadcast for free on the club's official websites that can only be accessed by accredited supporters ie season ticket holders or members.

This would perhaps be an option that would solve all the issues in question and allow the season to be finished.

Of course the ideal situation would be for the season to be finished as normal but that is looking increasingly unlikely as is the European Championships actually being played which creates a big logistical nightmare for those who have already booked flights and hotels etc for the game.

Photo: Action Images



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