It’s a weird time to be a Liverpool supporter right now. On the one hand, everyone sensible completely understands the cancelling of sporting events and the decision to put the Premier League on hold. After all, Reds fans know more than most that some things really are more important than football. Yet on the other hand the fact that we’re just two wins away from claiming the title means that many of us are toying with the potential variations to make it happen. What if those going to the ground sign a disclaimer? How about everyone heading to Anfield gets tested on the way in? Can we not just play Manchester City in a one-off game to get the title wrapped up right now? Those are the sort of thoughts whipping through the heads of Liverpool fans, desperate to get the title won legitimately before anything else happens. We also accept that it isn’t as easy as all that, given the state of things elsewhere in the league table.
“Karren Brady says a lot of things that are absolutely ridiculous so shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) March 16, 2020
As Neil Atkinson from the Anfield Wrap told Sky Sports recently, Liverpool are the easy ones to deal with in terms of this season. The Reds have won twenty-seven of the twenty-nine games that they’ve played so far. Anyone trying to claim we haven’t been the dominant force and totally deserving of our title is just denying the facts that are right in front of them. What isn’t so easy to figure out, however, is which teams will finish in the European places, which ones will be relegated and which teams from the Championship will be promoted. It would be entirely unfair for those teams in the bottom three to just be relegated with the placings locked as they are. Equally Championship teams fighting for play-off places will feel hard done to if they’re not given the chance to earn promotion. It’s such a ridiculously complex situation, so I’ve tried to make sense of what’s going on from a Liverpool perspective to see where we’re at.
Would An Asterisk Make Any Difference?
One of the possibilities is that the season will be ended as it currently is and Liverpool will be declared champions but with an asterisk next to the club’s name in the record books. The obvious question is whether or not that would really bother any of us. The answer as far as I’m concerned is a resounding ‘no’, given we have been the best team in the country by a mile since the moment the first ball of the season was kicked. Yet in some ways there’s also the fact that it would, in some small way, delegitimise the team’s performance this term. It’s in a similar bracket to the fact that we’re not going to add the FA Cup or Champions League to the league title. Of course it doesn’t matter in real terms, but at the same time it does stop this team from being recognised as one of the all-time greats in the manner in which it deserves such recognition. The idea of future generations looking at the league win as somehow less valid would be insane.
Suggestion in Germany the DFB & DFL will end Bundesliga season after this weekend, with no title-winners or teams relegated. La Liga suspended season and could follow suit. Italy too. France surely will follow – currently, UK approx 2 weeks behind in Coronavirus response… #LFC
— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) March 12, 2020
It’s all well and good those of us that are around now knowing that any possible asterisk wouldn’t mean a thing, but it would become a historical fact in which our overall dominance would be lost further down the line. On top of that, we would be denied the visual of watching Jordan Henderson and his teammates lift the trophy above their heads with thousands of Liverpool supporters celebrating in the background. It’s why the idea of playing games behind closed doors is so distasteful, but is that better than the season being declared void? There are too many variables that we simple can’t know anything about right now, with the April date clearly being put in as a placeholder whilst we get more clues about what happens next. The truth is that we don’t know, with huge amounts of disinformation flying around on social media from unreliable sources. Only time will tell what happens next, but an asterisk is fine by me.
Why Does Next Season Take Priority Over This One?
The thing that I’ve found most interesting is the idea that next season somehow takes priority over this one. The entire idea behind voiding the season is based on the notion that the next campaign has to get underway in August, yet no one from the Premier League or Football Association has actually explained why that’s the case. The current season could be delayed indefinitely and that wouldn’t make any difference to the next one, which hasn’t started yet. This campaign being concluded is necessary in order to figure out so many of the variables that are relevant to the next one. Yes, which team will end up as the champions is important, but not as important as knowing which sides will be playing in which divisions. We understandably look at everything through Red-tinted glasses, but there are just as many questions being asked in the Championship, League One and League Two, to say nothing of non-league football.
Why do people think that next season, a season that hasn’t yet started and all teams are on 0 points, is more important than a season 75% completed that has huge financial implication for dozens of teams up and down the pyramid.
Voiding this season just so next can start is dumb
— Joshua Gresham (@Joshawaa_) March 15, 2020
The idea of voiding the league might be one that appeals to those responsible for teams that haven’t had a particularly good season, which might explain why Karren Brady is so keen on pushing that outcome, but it doesn’t suit many others. Why would Sheffield United want that to happen, for example? The Blades have had an unbelievable campaign, pushing for a European place in the event that Manchester City’s Champions League ban is upheld. Even Manchester United might not be overly keen on things being ruled out, given that they’re also in the fight for a Champions League place. It’s not easy to figure out what should happen, but the push to completely cancel the season is a daft one for so many reasons. Clubs will be pushing it for entirely self-interested reasons and not because it’s in the wider interest of football as a whole. For once in recent times, you’d hope that self-interest will not win the day.