Premier League, Bundesliga or La Liga- what league is likely to restart first after Coronavirus

No one could have predicted the impact of the Coronavirus and what it has caused in the world. There has been a dramatic shift and life simply is not as we have known it for some time. This of course has affected world football, with almost all football grinding to a halt.

In Europe the Eredivise, the top league in the Netherlands was stopped with immediate effect. With the league so close, the authorities had no choice but to declare it null and void. The Belgian league also cancelled the season. Eyebrows were really raised though when the French Ligue 1 considered by many the 5th strongest league in Europe stopped the season.

Though in France they rightly gave the league title to PSG who were running away with it anyway and had a 12 point lead at the top and an extra game to play. Amiens and Toulouse were relegated. Both clubs may well go through the courts and seek compensation. But whilst Amiens have a point given that they were 7 points from safety with 30 points left, surely bottom club Toulouse did not. Were they really going to pull off a miracle and escape relegation having just earned 13 points this season? They would have needed to virtually win every game of the 10 they had left as they were 17 points behind at the time the virus hit. One must remember that the club have won just 3 games all season.

Now all attention is focused on the 3 big leagues. In Italy though football could return sometime in June, but like England the country has been hit with the most deaths in Europe and that is still in the balance. Currently Juventus lead Serie A by one point over Lazio, who themselves have had a terrific season.

La Liga and the Bundesliga have been pushing for a return. Especially in Germany. But some players for Cologne have just been declared to have the Covid-19 virus and that could now be in jeopardy. There is a real push though to have the Bundesliga and La Liga kick started by early June.

In truth Germany has not been affected as bad as Spain and England with the virus, but the worry will be if a second wave strikes. For now all cards are on the table but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bundesliga restart first from the major leagues in Europe.

Of course all football will be played behind closed doors and that could well be the case for the rest of 2020. As for the Premier League decisions seem to change daily. Ultimately it will be down to the players though. And the feeling one gets is that players are less than happy to return to football.

Behind closed doors means no fans of course but there is still the problem of how do you test at least 500 people? Because it would take roughly that figure to set up a Premier League game once you account for players, squads, security, police, extra stewards because of fans congregating near the stadiums and media. It all adds up. Then there is the ambulances needed at each game- would it be justifiable to have ambulances at a game of football when they could be needed elsewhere?

This situation will go on, and we should see some developments later this month. For now the first two weeks of June are being pencilled in for a European football return.

 

Moise Kean’s future with Everton in doubt after he breaks lockdown rules

Some Premier League players have been good at something during the lockdown due to Coronavirus and that has been flouting the rules. The latest player to do so is Everton’s Moise Kean. The striker hosted a party at his Cheshire apartment which is of course against strict rules.

Everton were left stunned and surprised that Kean would break the rules and host a party and they had the following to say in a statement:

”Everton Football Club was appalled to learn of an incident in which a first-team player ignored Government guidance and club policy in relation to the coronavirus crisis. The Club has strongly expressed its disappointment to the player and made it clear that such actions are completely unacceptable. Everton has regularly stressed the importance of following all the Government guidelines including rules and advice for inside and outside of the home through a series of official communications to all staff members, including players. The amazing people in the NHS deserve the utmost respect for their hard work and sacrifice. The best way to show them respect is by doing everything we can to protect them.”

Those are strong words by the club and reports have suggested that Kean could be fined 2 weeks wages, around £106,000 depending who you believe. The club will hope that Kean will learn quickly and will understand that he is completely in the wrong.

Of course when such matters are raised to the surface it is easy to reflect on what the player has done on the pitch- which isn’t much. The £25m move from Juventus last summer was supposed  to reignite Everton and on the surface Kean’s transfer looked like a good one. He had forced his way into the Juventus team and scored a few goals with limited time.

Everton came in for Kean, in what appeared to be a solid buy for the club but the fact that no other major European team wanted his services and challenged Everton for his signature should have raised alarm bells. This season Kean has struggled and has scored just 1 goal from 26 games.

But perhaps the main worry isn’t his lack of goals but his overall body language. When his team doesn’t have the ball he looks dejected, he doesn’t track back and simply doesn’t look very interested at all. For a player who is earning £53,000 a week this is a shocking situation.

In light of Kean breaking the lockdown rules, one could presume that Everton would be better off trying to offload the player. The problem is that they will almost certainly lose their investment and could take a 50% hit. Or possibly the best is yet to come from Kean and current manager Carlo Ancelotti will try to get the best out of the player.

As it stands Kean needs to realise how lucky he is. There will be hundreds of young kids in the local Everton area that could only dream of playing for the club, that may just lack some skills or just be unlucky. But are equipped with more passion and understanding of the club and football. Kean simply needs to wake up and realise playing for Everton in the Premier League is a huge opportunity that should not just be thrown away.

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This is how the Premier League season could be saved after Coronavirus

The Coronavirus continues to stop life as we know it and as a consequence that means no football. There has been talk by the FA in England that the Premier League could resume on the weekend of June 13th. But that is a best case scenario.

To add to the problems is that for many clubs there are still 9 games to be played and yet UEFA have stipulated that they would like domestic seasons to be completed by July 31st so they could then dedicate the month of August to the Champions League and Europa League.

The top leagues in England seem to be waiting for one reason only and that is the amount of money that is at stake that would be lost this season to TV companies. It is in the region of £700m, that’s what it would cost the FA if they voided the top leagues. Lower leagues have already been declared void and null. In Belgium the league season was brought to an end. The Dutch Erdevisie could close down their league and in Scotland a voting process is taking place to end the season.

So what is the best option for the Premier League?

As time goes on and the PM of England Boris Johnson states that a 2nd wave of the virus could emerge it looks more and more likely that the current season will be voided. If that is announced the problem is over and the next season could start later in the year. Or there is another way, which would be to stop the league season and end it with play off games.

First up Liverpool should be declared winners of the league. They are 25 points clear with 9 games to go, let’s face it the league is over as far as the title winners go. Liverpool had hit some poor form by their standards just before the virus hit but they are not going to lose 8 of their 9 games after losing just one in a year. Not going to happen. Currently Jurgen Klopp’s team need just 2 wins to wrap up their first league title in thirty years.

In the name of gamesmanship one could conclude that Liverpool deserve their title, and if the season was to restart it would only be a matter of time before they would have won it. So let’s give them the title and leave them out.

Next up is Manchester City who are in 2nd place. On account of them being 12 points clear of 5th and very unlikely on losing a top 4 place with the quality the reigning champions have at their disposal they should also be left out of a play off place and should qualify for the Champions League. Of course all of that depends on their appeal with UEFA over an earlier sanction which could see them lose it anyway, but that is an argument for another day.

In an ideal world then, to see who will take up the other 2 places of the Champions League we could have a play-off which would take in teams placed from 3rd to 6th (4 places). 3rd Leicester would play 6th placed Wolves and 4th Chelsea would play 5th placed Manchester United. The two teams who win qualify for the Champions League. Matches could be played behind closed doors as a one off game at Wembley Stadium, with heavy policing outside to stop the congregation of fans.

Of course the likes of Sheffield United in 7th place would feel unjust given that only goal difference separates them from Wolves. Tottenham who are 2 points behind Wolves and Arsenal who are three points would probably feel that they had a good run in chance to compete, but at the end of the day if the league is not abandoned then cut off places are needed. Those teams from 7th to 10th would then go into a play off anyway to determine who plays in the Europa League.

As for relegation Norwich are bottom, but are just six points from safety and with 27 left on the board for them it would seem unfair to just relegate them. So why not a play off?

This is where things could get very heated as it would feel unfair if say the bottom three of the Premier League played off against the top 3 of the Championship who would have felt they have earned their right to have the chance to play in the Premier League. The next objective then would be to have the bottom three of the Premier League play off against the next 3 clubs in the league positioned in 17th, 16th and 15th places. The team in 15th which is currently Brighton are after all just 2 points clear of the relegation zone. But it is evident that those clubs would complain about being rounded up into a play off for survival.

The games would be incredibly exciting though, and for most would amount to a fair way of ending the season. Instead of having to play out another 100 league games, the season could be decided in 9 games.

To some it might sound fair and to others very unjust, but at this time it almost feels like play-offs could be the perfect option for a very troubling and complex moment.

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Wayne Rooney and Marc Overmars both need reality checks after recent comments

Wayne Rooney and Marc Overmars are two superb players, one in Rooney is still playing football now with Derby after a glittering club career mostly with Manchester United. Dutchman Overmars lit up football in the 1990s and early 2000s with Ajax and then in the Premier League with Arsenal and will surely go down as one of the best foreign players to play in the league. However both have really put their foot in it these past few days.

The Convid-19 virus has gripped the world and this has trickled down to football leading some to make some bizarre comments. Rooney was talking about how he felt it was unfair that every footballer is being asked to give up 30% of his salary. He admitted that he could take the hit and then spoke about a young player he plays with at Derby.

The player he says lives on a council estate with his family and earns £2,000 a week, so he would have to give up £600 or £2,400 a month. Forgetting that he would still be bringing in £5,600 a month. There is a complete disconnection with society when Rooney seemingly cannot understand that earning over £5k a month is more than a great wage. Also said player would only be giving up some of his salary for 2-3 months. It is affordable and that is the bottom line.

It is worrying that Rooney would come out with such a statement when many up and down the country living in council homes struggle to find a quarter of the monthly wage that he is talking about, and it makes no sense. If Rooney is that concerned that the player and his family will start to struggle on £5k a month maybe he should be contributing himself?

Another player that made a faux pas this week was Marc Overmars. The technical director of Ajax has called for the Dutch league to end and use the current placings. That would, surprise surprise mean that Ajax would be champions.

There are still 9 games to be played in the league and Ajax have 56 points, however AZ Alkmaar also have 56 points and in 3rd place is Feyenoord with 50. If Ajax were 2nd would Overmars really be calling for the season to be cut short?

Of course it could play out that some European leagues will want the season finished given that Belgium have taken that route. However the main difference there was that Club Brugge could not be caught in 1st place and other positions had been decided and they only had 1 game of the regular season left to play anyway. In other leagues that simply isn’t the case with so much still to play for.

Overmars has shown what appears to be an arrogance, yes he is right many are dying and that football is not important when the virus is here. But to suggest that the league should be shut down with so many games still left to play just feels premature. If the virus situation follows Wuhan where the virus begun it might be possible to bring back football by June. If not then it won’t be possible, but with the Euro’s now postponed until 2021 there is still plenty of time for football to come back.

The Dutch league may well not resume this season, but Overmars seems to have jumped the gun by 4 months in suggesting it should end.

Revealed: The Likely date that the Premier League will return on

The Coronavirus has turned the world upside down with many lockdowns all over the world as people are hit the hardest, and are not quite sure what the immediate future holds. For football fans the lockdown has seemed strange, we aren’t used to have no football. Even when the season ends, pre-season friendlies and tournaments or major summer competitions take the place. Literally we have football 365 days a year.

Obviously lives and the safety of people matter more than sport, but there will always be the burning question for sports fans and football ones, when will it all return?

Whilst we can’t 100% tell the future we can certainly look at countries that were hit with the virus before England and take from this an example. The virus started in Wuhan, China and it isn’t important when the first cases were recorded which is believed to have been as early as December, but when the area went into lockdown. The lockdown happened on January 23rd and naturally everything was cancelled and the lockdown went on for 2 months.

In England the lockdown happened roughly two months after Wuhan with the natural delay. The UK government said that they believe the lockdown should be applied for at least two months last week,and that would be in line with Wuhan who are just about getting back to having a normal way of life.

If we take into account the 2 months that would mean that the lockdown in England should be lifted around May 25th. There will have to be an easing period, but we could expect traffic flowing again and people returning to work within 10 days to 2 weeks of the lockdown being lifted. As for football the country’s far and away biggest sport we can expect at least another week on top of the lockdown being lifted.

With that being said the Premier League could well return to action on June 13th which is a Saturday. Of course there would still need to be caution and we could expect at least the first three games to be played behind closed doors. In that time Liverpool could well win the league, and the sad reality is that they could do so with no fans.

As for finishing the season, there was two months left, but with some games being played in midweek it would be possible, one would think, to have the season finished by the beginning of August. The next season would then only have to be delayed by a month and could start in mid September, possibly after the first round of Champions Leagues are played.

Of course many talks will have to take place, namely for players’ contracts so many are on course to expire on June 30th, and that would all have to be agreed. Getting players back out on the pitch too will be needed but one would expect that the virus will not be a threat by then.

It’s an interesting idea, but with thought having the league returning in mid June could well happen, just looking at how the world has been dealing with the virus.

Let’s hope the virus can be vanquished quickly and we can return to normality and start watching our favourite sports once more.

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Should the Premier League really restart on April 30th?

Let’s face it we all miss football and it would be great to get back to some normality and have ‘our’ weekends back again. But in the light of the terrible Coronavirus we seem some time away from that.

People’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake and of course so many people have already died of the virus that talking about wanting football back seems very superficial. But as humans have done for literally millions of years of disasters and destruction and acts of God so to speak, we have gotten through it, and folks the show must goes on.

That is essentially what the English FA said when they held an emergency meeting a few days ago. According to them the league must go on, and importantly teams want to go on and finish the season. That sounds like great news if it didn’t feel the world was coming to an end.

When people’s jobs are at risk and small businesses are closing, and many cities throughout the world are on a standstill it feels bizarre to think that the FA believe that the situation will be so much better in five weeks that we will be able to restart the Premier League once more, scheduled for April 30th.

If the situation hasn’t changed then football will surely be making a mockery of the public efforts and the brave nurses and doctors and in England the brilliant NHS staff who have done an outstanding job. Some have come out of retirement to help, and that should be applauded the country over.

This isn’t a piece saying that the league should be null and void, but it is questioning the time frame of the FA’s decision. With no summer tournaments now the league could run right through past the summer, although UEFA would have to relax different players contracts and the transfer window would have to open up later and finish later. In truth take out meaningless friendlies and internationals and a new league season could start as far back as October if need be.

Of course in five weeks the world could be a different place. The Coronavirus could have dissipated, and most things could have returned to normal. But the worry is that April is just over a week away and the news has not improved and the FA want players back in training at the beginning of April.

Of course games would be played behind closed doors. But you still need a staff of between 300-500 to make these games happen, and again if small clubs and pubs are being closed down, then football even behind closed doors needs to be too.

Maybe it comes down to this:Imagine we were in May and the season had ended, would the FA or anyone else be talking about bringing football back? All summer friendlies and pre- tournaments would be cancelled no question. So it seems like football is returning because of the money being lost tied up to billionaire TV deals, and simply put that is not right and again is underlining all of the hard work and efforts being made by the general public.

We love football, and we want it back. But let’s remain sane about the situation, and not rush it back just yet.

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After postponement of Euro 2020 & Copa America: Realistic options for European football

It was like the secret that every football fan knew in advance, that Euro 2020 and the Copa America would not be taking place this summer. It was announced and confirmed by UEFA on Tuesday morning and was obviously the right and correct decision.

With the two major tournaments being delayed a year until the summer of 2021 it frees up the summer for domestic seasons to continue. The hope of course is that the seasons will be able to continue. In the Premier League for example the FA have penciled in a return date of the first week of April. But that decision was made  a week ago.

The problem is that domestic sport returning that early seems like a far stretch with the world in chaos and uncertainly over the Coronavirus, which isn’t supposed to hit its peak according to scientists until the summer, possibly in June. Once it does then things are supposed to start returning to normal.

So the worry is can domestic seasons be finished this season? Of course that will be up to every different association and it wouldn’t be a surprise if, for example. Serie A is declared null and void this season, with Italy being hit the worst out of European countries. Spain has also taken a hit. It is less so in England, where the country continues to take a very different stance than its European counterparts by trying to continue to live day to day whilst other countries are on total lock down.

So when does the delay become a problem? Well there was 2 months of the season to finish and with no major tournaments now in the summer that means domestic football could, in theory, continue. The new season could also be delayed maximum to mid September and there would need to be at least a five week gap between the end of the season and the new one.

That would mean that this season would need to end by at least the beginning of August and start at the beginning of June. Of course football could be kicking off sometime in April and if that happens, then all is well with the world again, that is the hope. The biggest fear is that the virus drags on or even gets worse before it gets better. One would hope though that with almost a 3 month safety net all domestic leagues could continue again this summer.

These are very uncertain times, something that no new generation or the one before it has faced before, so nobody really knows what will happen, but for once UEFA has tried to help the situation and so has Conmebal to try and make the right decisions.

 

 

Could Liverpool really be denied the Premier League title over Coronavirus?

These are strange times we are living in, it almost feels like a science fiction movie, streets are emptying as are shops, and all of a sudden there is panic in places as the coronavirus hits. All of this has led to football being suspended in many countries including England and that could hit league leaders Liverpool hard.

In a season where no other club was going to catch them, Liverpool could be denied winning their first league title since 1990 by the virus instead. For now the league is taking a 2 week break but there are mutterings that it will need to take at least a 5 week break, and there are 10 games still to be played.

Karren Brady vice chairman of West Ham has come out and said that this season should be null and void, but is that a realistic option? On one hand she could have a point if the season can’t be finished and the cut off deadline would have to be sometime in July. On the other hand one has to wonder if she simply has her own club at heart who are just above the relegation zone. Whilst a null and void league would be a huge blow to Liverpool, it would also affect the teams in the Championship who have worked so hard to try and gain promotion, then again an act of God that no one could have predicted has intervened.

How realistic is it that after being by far the best team in the league and having an incredible 25 point lead that it could mean nothing? The good news for Liverpool is that UEFA are set to postpone the European championships until 2021, so that does free up the summer. With clubs mostly being able to play 2 games a week, there would then be plenty of time to finish the season, but of course that all depends on how long restrictions will apply for.

There have been suggestions in some countries that the peak of the virus could extend until June, and if the seasons resume say in the middle of June, that could be fine for the leagues to restart. Instead of having pointless pre- season tournaments we can get the league sorted out.

Anyone declaring a league season to be null and void really needs to check themselves because it feels like the people saying it are doing so through self interest. Would Brady be declaring such a statement if West Ham were top of the league?

It would surely be an odd moment in football if the league was voided and a huge twist and such a painful sucker punch for Liverpool. Let’s hope though that football and general life can get back on track as soon as possible.

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Coronavirus Outbreak Nullifies Home-Field Advantage

The 237th instalment of the Derby d’Italia will be a defining moment in the season for both sides. On one hand, Inter desperately needs the three points to maintain the pace with Lazio and Juve at the top, while the bianconeri, by contrast, would like to keep Antonio Conte’s men at arm’s length. After all, a win against their fierce rivals would extend their lead to nine over the nerazzurri, with just one game in hand. With Lazio in fine form, three points are of paramount importance for Sarri’s men ahead of their crucial Champions League return leg against Lyon.

The game was initially set to be played last week in Turin, in front of their usual 40,000 spectators. With former Juventus captain Antonio Conte returning as an opponent for the first time since switching allegiances, the Allianz Stadium promised to be hostile. Many fans have even petitioned for Conte’s star to be removed at the Allianz Stadium after he joined Inter.

However, with the coronavirus spreading across the nation, the Italian Government ruled that all sporting events until April 3 would need to be played behind closed doors. As a result, Conte and Marotta will have to wait until next season to receive their “warm” welcomes.

While the game promises to be an evenly-matched tilt, the ruling puts Inter at a slight advantage. For one, the deafening home crowd won’t be present to distract them and they’ll be able to lock in like never before. On the other hand, Conte excels at motivating his men for one-off battles as we have seen throughout his young managerial career and will benefit from the relatively quiet, empty stadium. There may not be fans present, but one thing’s for sure: Conte’s voice will be heard, whereas Sarri is far more observant on the touchline.

In a game like this, Conte gets the advantage and will likely be motivating his men full throttle. With everything on the line tomorrow, expect Inter to come out firing from all cylinders. The stadium ban is an unprecedented situation that nullifies Juve’s home advantage, and Inter will be looking to fully capitalize on it.

For Sarri, the challenge is unique. After seeing his side underperform after the new year, Juve have fallen behind in the title race for the first time. Simply put, a reaction is needed or they may be in for a rough finish to the end of the season. Juve may have the game in hand on Lazio, but the biancocelesti have been in sensational form and have shown no signs of stopping. In many ways, they’ve been the best side in Italy this past season. Anything but a win against Inter and Juventus will find themselves in second place by tomorrow night; a worrying prospect indeed.

With Inzaghi’s men focusing solely on the league, it will be quite the uphill battle to climb if they fall behind, especially with no fans to support them. Factor in Juventus’ narrow deficit in the Champions League and the bianconeri’s minds may just be on their European exploits.

On the bright side, the last week has allowed Sarri’s men to regain energy and rest ahead of a crucial stretch. Due to injuries and a lack of depth in key areas, a majority of Juventus’ squad needed this.

No matter which way you put it, tomorrow’s derby d’Italia will be an awkward affair. The contrast of having massive title implications but no fans present make it so, there’s no way around it. While Sarri will be eager to prove he’s the right man for the job after coming under fire, Conte and his men are more than happy to play spoiler and throw their name in the hat for the Scudetto. For now, it’s advantage Conte.

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What does the Serie A fixture chaos mean for Lazio?

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The worst, it seems, is over.

After a maddening week of indecision, bickering and downright incompetence from Italy’s football authorities, some answers have finally been delivered as to how Serie A will deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The Italian government have issued a decree confirming that all sporting events in the country are to be played behind closed doors until 3 April.

Up until this point, Lazio’s superb season has been unaffected by the public health crisis.

But after a week of contradicting statements and last-minute U-turns, now is the time to answer some of the key questions surrounding the new reality in Italian football. Continue reading