Two fair ways to wrap the Premier League and give Liverpool their dues
"None of us know in this moment what the final outcome will be, but as a team we have to have belief that the authorities make decisions based on sound judgement and morality."
He may have been reluctant to add to the chatter but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp understood that he could use his platform - during a time of severe anxiety amid the Coronavirus pandemic - to preach social responsibility and safety to the club's legions of supporters. Klopp wrote:
'First and foremost, all of us have to do whatever we can to protect one another. In society I mean. This should be the case all the time in life, but in this moment I think it matters more than ever.
'I’ve said before that football always seems the most important of the least important things. Today, football and football matches really aren’t important at all.'
The Premier League may have needed one of their own leading club's managers (Mike Arteta) to call an emergency meeting, on Friday, and finally suspend the competition but at least the deed is done. There is talk, for now, of reassessing matters in early April but most of us know the league, and many other sporting competitions, will not be coming back for a long stretch.
Whatever sporting calendars you got at the start of 2020, you can save them to show future generations but they are pretty much irrelevant now. Priority number one, two, three and 94 are all about pulling together, following the advice of the medical experts and trying to get through the coming days, weeks and months in as best a shape as possible.
For football fans the world over, though, what of the 2019/20 Premier League season? How do we ever get back to the way it was, and how will fixtures ever be caught up when we eventually try and go back to normal?
There are many ways the Premier League can tackle this matter, and there will be plenty of vested interests flying in with their opinions. Should the Covid-19 situation be successfully tackled, the best case scenario would be football being possible again by the summer.
You can take it as read that Euro 2020 will be bumped to the summer of 2021. The idea of hosting a major football championship across 12 European cities was already a poor one, and it is completely unfeasible in the world we currently live in. Too many unknowns.
There are two ways the league could go about it. Either one should see Liverpool end their 30-year wait for the title.
Option 1 is to bow to the inevitable and end the season as it is. First past the post.
There may be nine league fixtures for most sides to fulfil but the race is all but won. The Reds are just six points from securing their 19th championship and, had fixtures played out as they were supposed to, they probably would have wrapped it up with a home win over Crystal Palace on March 21.
They were in the final straight and could see the fluttering finish line. Only the most ardent or deluded (or both) rival fans would begrudge them what they had fought so hard to achieve.
Should the league finish up as is, there would be trickier areas to navigate - such as Champions and Europa League spots - but relegation could be solved by no-one from the class of 2019/20 going down. From the Championship, clear frontrunners Leeds and West Brom go up and there is a 2020/21 season with 22 teams and a tougher relegation scenario (four down, two up). To clear up a fixture glut, the League Cup can be the first of the competitions to be shelved a season.
Option 2 is finishing out the season at whatever safe date authorities decide, be that in front of crowds or behind closed doors.
That could see the 2019/20 season end by autumn or winter of this year. There would be a fair league winner, European places decided and both relegation and promotion.
The 2020/21 season could then be reduced to 19 games - all teams playing each other once - and the fixtures computer randomly generating 10 home and 9 away ties. There would still be grumbles (there always are) but it would be fair on all teams from this season and next.
All of this can wait. Of course it can. As Rob O'Hanrahan put it, 'our greatest, most needed, distraction must take a place on the sidelines for a while'.
Our energies are already switching from matters that only last week felt vital and enveloping to getting by day to day, and looking out for each other.
Should the time come, however, to make a call on the Premier League season, call up Liverpool and give them the good news.
While they are at it, Scottish Premiership officials can tie some green and white bows on their trophy for Neil Lennon and Celtic.