West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady caused a stir among Liverpool and Leeds United fans but there could be a solution that suits all three clubs.
Hammers CEO Brady made headlines for all the wrong reasons yet again at the weekend.
This time with her opinion on what should happen in football for the likes of West Ham, Liverpool, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Premier League and EFL have shut down until April 3rd and 4th at the earliest. But with the virus not due to peak for another 12-14 weeks, the restart date looks highly unlikely.
That has led to a speculation over what should happen to resolve the season.
Brady’s ‘null and void’ suggestion riles Liverpool and Leeds fans
And Brady wrote in The Sun that the only fair thing to do would be to make the 2019/20 campaign null and void.
That would deny Liverpool a first title for 30 years and – as cynics were quick to point out – save West Ham from potential relegation.
It would also deny Leeds United a long-awaited return to the top flight after 15 miserable years away. West Brom too would be denied a return under former Hammers boss Slaven Bilic.
Brady has been savaged for her suggestion by fans across the football sphere, particularly Liverpool, Leeds and even her own West Ham supporters.
They feel the season must be concluded no matter how long it takes.
A meeting is scheduled for Thursday where a decision is expected to be made about the rest of the campaign.
League’s solution could suit majority
Well there could well be a solution that suits West Ham, Liverpool, Leeds and West Brom if English football follows the lead from South America.
In Chile last season 24 rounds of 30 league matches had been completed when the league was halted for several weeks, explains Tim Vickery on ESPN.
“The motive for the hold up in Chile had nothing to do with pandemics, and everything to do with a wave a social unrest that made it impossible for football to continue as normal,” Vickery said in his ESPN column.
“The country has had a sad recent history of football violence, but clashes with the security forces had the effect of uniting groups of fans of rival clubs — and their consensus was that football could not go ahead while people were dying in the streets.
“After a five week pause, there was an attempt to resume — swiftly halted when fans made it clear that this would only lead to further protest. And so, having to fit into the calendar of South American football, drastic decisions had to be made.”
What happened next could well be the best solution, if not for all then certainly for West Ham, Liverpool, Leeds United and West Brom.
The season was declared over, and the title awarded to the league leaders Universidad Catolica.
Like Liverpool in this season’s Premier League, Catolica were all but uncatchable, 13 points ahead of their nearest rivals.
There was no relegation from the Chilean first division. Here that would pacify all six clubs currently in a relegation dogfight including West Ham who are only outside the bottom three on goal difference with nine games to go.
Chile precedent wold mean 22-team Premier League as decision looms
Crucially, though, the top two teams from the second division were still promoted. Here that would see Leeds and the Baggies make up a 22-team Premier League for the 2020/21 campaign.
ESPN point out this was easier in Chile than it would be here because of the size of their first division, which included only 16 teams, now increased to 18.
But it is thought extra games squeezed in early in the season – or scrapping what turned out to be a largely unsuccessful winter break – would help fit those games in in England.
Of course the move would undoubtedly give rise to a host of claims to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – as it has in Chile – with clubs like Fulham still capable of automatic promotion and those right down to 13th-placed QPR in with a shout of the Championship play-off places.
But with every mooted solution there will be aggrieved parties.
And this seems like a best case scenario in unprecedented times.