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With football in England at all levels now cancelled and the government suggesting the eight of the Coronavirus threat will not be over for twelve weeks it seems unlikely that the leagues could get going until at least June. There have been many proposals from across the European leagues, finish the season as it stands, consider the first round of matches only, cancel the season all together or play the remaining games behind closed doors. But the most sensible option, especially given how much of the season we have already played, seems to be to complete the leagues when it is appropriate to do. These sentiments were echoed by Leeds United’s managing director Angus Kinnear on Monday…
"What we've heard from the broader football family over the last couple of days is a groundswell of opinion is that the right thing to do is complete the league. At the moment it's not a time to be talking about football, it's a time for cool heads and patience. I don't think anyone needs to jump to any immediate solutions. But I think the board principle that you maintain the integrity of the competitions and that when the time comes and it's safe to do so you finish the leagues, I think everybody is starting to feel that is the right thing to do. It's certainly our opinion, we think it maintains the integrity of the football pyramid, the integrity of the competitions.”
Kinnear’s words are refreshing compared to the self-centred comments made by the likes of Karen Brady over the weekend. Whilst claims to void the season only benefit those currently fighting relegation and calls to finish the season with teams in the position they currently are only benefit those sat at the top of the tables Kinnear’s solution is the only fair solution. There will need to be compromises of course, Euro 2020 will need to be moved and the start of next season may need to be delayed but it is only right for teams to be given the chance to save themselves from relegation or earn their titles. Kinnear continued…
"I think by playing the games it helps the clubs financially, particularly clubs further down the pyramid, so I think that's a solution. It allows some solution to some of the financial issues that the clubs are going to be looking to face So I think, although it's difficult to put a time scale on it, finishing the leagues across Europe is the right thing to do. I think we've heard that from Serie A and La Liga who believe that the Euros are suspended it could potential provide a window for leagues across Europe to complete."
One of my biggest concerns regarding voiding the season is the lack of promotion throughout the league structure. The Premiership would love to be a closed shop and to remove promotion and relegation and give them an excuse to make is a private club would be a dangerous precedent. It’s a feeling Kinnear seems to share and I’m sure the other 71 Football League clubs do too. If we are to go up this season it’s important for fans not to be deprived of their moment. Liverpool celebrating a league winners’ trophy for the first time in 30 years or Leeds celebrating promotion to the top flight after 16 years behind closed doors would be a sad thing. The game is about the fans, it should be delayed in order that they can enjoy their moment and Kinnear agrees this should be the priority…
"I think if the only way to complete a league is to play behind closed doors then that's something we'd have to consider. We'd like our supporters to be in to witness the remainder of the season and that would be our first objective. But if it's only safe to play behind closed doors and it's the only way to complete the league then that's also an option. And I think the suggestion that the leagues are just voided, probably don't have enough support to happen and the concept that the Premier League would just pull up the drawbridge on the rest of the football pyramid, I don't think it's something that would have the support of the football family or the wider supporting public."