Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1: What now?
With leagues across Europe suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, four AS writers discuss what's next in England, Italy, Germany and France.
Premier League: Liverpool will be champions whatever happens, writes Alberto Muñoz
In England, no-one is in any doubt that, come what may, Liverpool will be the worthy winners of the Premier League. Although there are no rules in place on how to settle the league if the season is called off before it finishes, a “senior figure” at a Premier League club has confirmed to The Telegraph that there would be little to no opposition to handing the trophy to Jürgen Klopp’s side. Their closest challengers in the league, Manchester City, are currently 25 points behind them, and City boss Pep Guardiola has publicly acknowledged that the Reds cannot now be caught.
Liverpool need just two more wins to seal the title, but the Premier League is not due to resume until early April. Should play start up at that point, after the longest halt to the English league since the Second World War, the competition will seek to conclude as normal. However, less optimistic predictions point to a resumption of fixtures in May or June, in which case an alternative course of action will be required.
Italy: Serie A aiming to resume in May, writes Mirko Calemme
As things stand, Serie A is to start up again on 4 April, but it seems almost impossible that this will happen. In Italy, the number of cases of the coronavirus continues to rise - on Saturday, the total moved past the 20,000 mark - and it appears that, even in a best-case scenario, there won’t be any football until May. The Italian league has said that its intention is to “complete the season by resuming fixtures when health conditions allow it”, a plan that would be possible if Euro 2020 were to be postponed. But with many players out of contract on 1 July, the campaign would have to be done and dusted by then.
If that isn’t possible, one option gaining traction is to hold play-offs between the top four to decide the champions, and between the bottom four to determine who goes down to Serie B. “It’s an old idea of mine,” league chief Gabriele Gravina told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. “It would be an interesting event and a test to see how well it would work."
Germany: Play-offs are an option in the Bundesliga, writes J.C. Menzel
For now, no final decisions have been made. The only move made by the German league so far has been to suspend matchday 26 of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. The body has also recommended that this break be extended until 2 April. On Monday, the bosses of the 36 clubs in the top two divisions will come together to discuss the next steps to be taken, with several scenarios on the table, from cancelling the rest of the campaign to holding play-offs to decide the season.
A lot depends on the decision UEFA makes on Euro 2020, as a postponement of this summer’s international tournament would give Germany until the end of June, at which point many players’ contracts expire, to clear its domestic backlog. The aim is to complete the season by whatever means are possible, as its cancellation would have a hugely negative impact on the clubs.
France: Ligue 1 looking at three possible scenarios, writes Andrés Onrubia
The French league announced this week that domestic football is to be suspended until further notice and, right now, nobody knows what will become of the 2019/20 campaign. As with every league, there are several options, ranging from pausing promotion and relegation and declaring the season null and void, to playing the remainder of the term in June.
The president of Lyon, Jean-Michel Aulas, is in favour of the former, and has proposed giving the Ligue 1 European spots to the teams who were in the Champions League and Europa League this season - a plan which would see his club qualify for the continent’s top club competition despite currently being seventh. Lille’s stance, meanwhile, is that the 10 remaining Ligue 1 games should be played in June, with UEFA postponing both Euro 2020 and the Champions League.
The option of declaring PSG as champions and using the current standings to determine promotion and relegation has also been mooted. A decision will not be made for another two weeks; by then, it is expected that more will be known about the likely duration of the crisis.