Amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, the Rugby Football Union has taken the decision to call a close to the 2019/20 season for all levels below the Premiership, and has used a system called ‘best playing record formula’ to draw up final end-of-season tables. Admittedly, in some cases, there was nothing very contentious to decide: Saracens were always destined to be relegated from the Premiership and Newcastle Falcons always going to be promoted. The English Football League has been more optimistic/less decisive––you take your pick––in taking similar action. A potential £762million refund to various broadcasting companies may have something to do with the lack of definitive action.
Should the Premier League season be ended early without playing any further matches there will be inevitable winners and losers depending on the model the Premier League decides to adopt in order to devise a final league table.
Of course, whatever happens, Liverpool will obviously be winners; with a 25-point advantage over their nearest rivals how could they be anything else? But then again, will they? Despite the inevitability of Liverpool being crowned champions should the season have progressed normally, if it ends prematurely there will always be some naysayers––Man Utd fans––who will claim that Liverpool’s 19th league championship is a hollow victory. So, Liverpool: both winners and losers.
Aston Villa fans may feel hard-done-by that they sit in the relegation zone when they have played a game fewer than their nearest rivals, but a simulated final league table devised by Opta suggests that the Premier League’s current three bottom clubs––Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth––would all occupy exactly the same positions at the end of the season. Similarly, Leeds, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham would still be the top 3 clubs in the Championship. So, should a normal relegation and promotion go ahead with Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth dropping down a league, and Leeds, West Brom and Fulham going up? Or, should relegation and promotion be scrapped this season, given the exceptional circumstances? Whatever decision the footballing authorities take on this matter will make either winners or losers of the six clubs involved. Winners and losers to the tune of potentially hundreds of millions of pounds.
It’s not a decision I’d want to have to make. No wonder the League are stalling.
And then there is me. I look like being both a winner and a loser, too, if the Premier League ends early. Here’s why. I am involved in two Fantasy Football Leagues. In one league I am leading, although my nearest rival had been making rapid gains on me in the last weeks of play and would most likely overhaul me should the season continue. In the other league, I sit in second place, but I had been eating up the points between myself and the player above me and I was feeling confident that I would have overtaken him by the season’s normal close.
Football: it makes winners and losers of us all.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake is back sitting on the fence.