Could Leeds United be crowned champions without kicking another ball?

30 Apr 2020 08:45 pm, by YorkshireSquare

The mood music around finishing the English Football season seems to have changed somewhat in the past couple of days. Where there was once a string desire to finish the season whenever it was safe to do so the safety and logistical concerns seem to be growing and growing. With no plan for loosening of lockdown restrictions from the government until at least next week time could be starting to run out. Then there is the practicality of having to conduct the 66,000 Covid-19 tests it is thought would be required to keep the players safe and the logistical nightmare of playing games behind closed doors and keeping the fans away.

With the French government banning sporting events until at least September and Ligue 1 now being decided on a points per game basis the reality of the Championship season not being finished moves closer to home. Players are also beginning to speak out with Sergio Aguero quoted as saying players are ‘scared’ about the prospect of returning to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has also stated resuming the leagues would lead to a farcical situation with fans congregating in large numbers outside grounds.

It would hard to believe the Football League and Championship clubs would accept a season without promotion to the Premier League without a legal challenge, so how can the outcome of the season be decided? It is understood UEFA want leagues to use a system which considers ‘sporting merit’ for determining qualification for European competitions. It would seem only reasonable to apply the same to the Championship and Football League final finishing positions. So what system to use? Positions as they are, points per game, table as it was at the halfway point or mirroring results for the final nine games? We look at how Leeds would fare under all these systems…

As It Stands
Well, this one is pretty easy. Leeds United stand top of the Championship ready to be declared Champions and promoted to the Premier League. West Brom make up the automatic promotion places just a point behind. Fulham lead the chasing pack on 64 points with Brentford third on 60 points, Nottingham Forest 5th on goal difference and Preston sixth on 56 points. With all teams in the Championship having played the same number of games ending the season with position as is could be a legitimate way to end the season.

At The Halfway Point
Leeds had just come off the back of that draw with Cardiff and defeat against Fulham at the halfway point and were no longer sitting pretty at the top of the table. West Brom lead the way on 50 points with Leeds just behind on 47. Third place is a surprise entry for Sheffield Wednesday (Currently 15th in the table) on 39 points with Fulham and Preston on 38 points and Brentford in sixth with 37 points. Leeds might not be crowned champions but at least they would still be in the automatic places.

Points Per Game
Everyone has played the same number of games in the Championship so the order of the table would look the same as it stands now. Leeds would be Champions on 88 points with West Brom also promoted to the Premier League as runners-up on 87 points. Fulham would take third spot on 80 points with Fulham and Forest taking fourth and fifth on 75 points each. Preston would complete the play-off placed on 70 points.

Mirroring Reverse Fixtures
This system doesn’t play out quite so well for Leeds with West Brom crowned Champions on 91 points. Leeds would still earn promotion but would finish 6 points behind the Baggies. The promotion spots would have a similar feel with Fulham third on 79 points, Brentford and Forest in fourth and fifth on 77 points and Preston sixth on 74 points. Marcelo Bielsa's men would pick up the lowest amount of points from the top-six with just 14 from a possible 27, but it would still be enough to see them promoted.

Whichever system is considered it seems only fair that West Brom and Leeds United are promoted based on their efforts and results so far this season. Deciding the final promotion spot could be more difficult though, Fulham are third on merit in three systems, only pipped into fourth place by the curve ball that is Sheffield Wednesday if we take the halfway results. But whichever system is used Brentford, Forest and Preston might have something to say if they miss out on promotion. Then again, all of the teams in the top six might have a lot to say if the season is voided without promotion or relegation!

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barryanorak wrote on 01 May 2020 08:48 am

Let's assume no more games are possible in the regular season...

Leeds, WBA promoted. Hard to argue with that.

It only takes three games for the play offs to be decided (make the first ties a single match/leg...)

Even the EFL should be able to arrange for three games to be played to settle the third place.