When the English Premier League was suspended on 13th March 2020, Liverpool was only two wins away from claiming the title, sitting comfortably on top of the league with whooping points clear of the nearest club to it, Manchester City. It missed the title by mere two points in 2019, the year it won the Champions League. The 2020 season is the closest that Liverpool has come to winning the league. But with state of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom, 171,253 infections and 26,771 deaths as at 30 April 2020 and uncertainty about when the lockdown in the country will be lifted, it is not certain when and if the Premiership would resume.
The season may be cancelled or to use a Nigerian term, declared inconclusive. Though this would be an injustice of historic proportions, it is one the fans of once-great but now failing clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal are praying for. It must be avoided at all costs. The English Premiership can be safely concluded without unduly exposing anyone, players, officials, or fans to risk. There are ways of resuming and concluding the league which would even create enormous opportunities for businesses and individuals, at a time when the lockdown to curtail the coronavirus has hit businesses and incomes hard.
Three things are essential to finishing the league. A small city or village must be found with sufficient football pitches and hotel rooms to accommodate matches and fans. All the remaining matches must be played in this town or village within two-three weeks, meaning that at least four matches must be played every day. This would create a lively football festival similar to the world cup at a time when people are suffering from withdrawal symptoms after been deprived of watching footballing action for more than a month. Other leagues in the world, for football and other sports, may follow the English league example, reopen and conclude their 2020 seasons even if they don’t have waiting champions as deserving of the title as Liverpool FC.
Selecting the Super Host
Small English Towns:
We ran a quick search for beautiful small English towns and these very picturesque tourist destinations came up:
Clovelly, Devon: A fishing town where fans will be spoilt for seafood choice. Castle Combe, Cotswold Valley: This place is described as the “prettiest village in England”.
Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire: a place of stunning natural beauty known as the Little Venice of the Cotswold.
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire: A very beautiful ancient market town with cobbled streets and spectacular countryside.
The English Football Association has so many to choose from: Oxford, Cambridge, Coventry, etc. Oxford and Cambridge Universities have one big advantage – many of the over seventy colleges have excellent accommodation and football fields. (Not a surprise, given their £21 billion wealth).
Once the host of the final push for the title is selected, questions about getting players, the media, and fans virus-free to the venue -actually two or three venues could be used – have to be addressed. A two-week period is required to test and isolate all players, officials, and staff to designated venues, including people involved in transporting players and fans and attending to their needs in hotels.
This will no doubt involved considerable additional costs which should not be a hindrance to averting the greatest injustice in the history of football. With the huge population, football-starved humanity locked at home, television rights could be sold to new parts of the world. The pay-per-view market for new Premiership converts is massive. What else do they have to watch? Millionaires all over the world would pay a fortune to safely leave their fortress for ten days, boarding a plane, and enjoying international travel. Shopping trips to Harrods and Selfridges could be safely incorporated. This would be a useful test drive for the aviation industry in many countries, a precursor to the full opening of the economy. The cash boost to English tourism will relieve Chancellor Rishi Sunak of the need to provide wage protection payments to the host towns for at least a month. Well managed, the one-month Premiership fiesta could be worth as much as 10% of the £106 billon which tourism contributes to the British economy! Special care would be taken to sell very expensive tickets to billionaires all over the world who would give anything to have some sporting, outdoor fun amidst the boredom of the coronavirus lockdown. Think of the parking fees for their private jets.
The French Solution is Completely Unacceptable
The French Government has declared that sporting activities will not be allowed until September 2020. The French Ligue de Football Professionnel has then proceeded to declare PSG, the club at the top of the Ligue 1 when coronavirus disrupted proceedings, as the champions of the 2019/2020 campaign with eleven games yet to be played. This government-assisted victory is rejected by all Liverpool fans at home, in England and abroad, especially Nigeria, not only because there are still 38 matches yet to be played in the Premiership. Liverpool is poised to win the league with a record number of points separating it from the runner up. Should the victory be administratively declared by the English Football Association, the fans of has-been clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United will distort the history of 2019/2020 Premiership. They will seek to portray it not as the historic victory it is but as the year when the outbreak of a pandemic aided Liverpool FC to lift the title after 30 years of waiting. Liverpool insists on beating the blue, red and conclusively and a plan has been found that is safe, good for the beautiful game and the economy.