Premier League told to finish season or use play-offs for UCL slots
English Premier League now faces the prospect of deciding Champions League positions and relegation spots in one-off ties - if the season is not able to successfully reach a conclusion this summer.
UEFA, following a meeting on Thursday, developed guidelines for clubs across the continent as the governing body look to formulate a plan to get 2019-20 seasons finished.
All of Europe’s top five leagues are currently suspended due to the global coronavirus pandemic and each of them remains incomplete, with league titles, Champions League spots and relegation positions all still to be decided.
UEFA announced that it is ‘preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit’.
Liverpool found themselves 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League at the time of the suspension.
Chelsea are sat in fourth, in the final Champions League position, three points clear of Manchester United in fifth, with both teams still with nine games left to play.
Norwich are bottom of the table, six points off safety, while Aston Villa are two points adrift and Bournemouth are in the relegation zone on goal difference.
With UK government lockdown measures recently extended by a further three weeks, it is believed that June 8 is the earliest possible restart date for the Premier League - but that remains a flexible date as football reacts to the state of the virus.
UEFA are keen to see domestic leagues concluded by the start of August at the latest, with that month slated to feature the conclusion of the Champions League.
Leagues that are unable to bring about a return to action will be advised to stage one-off play-off games to determine key positions in the table, which would directly affect sides like Chelsea, Manchester United and Sheffield United in the Champions League race.
As part of UEFA’s determination from Thursday’s meeting, they acknowledged that leagues could be prematurely canceled if ‘there is an existence of an official order prohibiting sports events’ by national government.
It was also determined that ‘insurmountable economic problems which make finishing the season impossible because it would put at risk the long-term financial stability of the domestic competition and/or clubs’ was another viable reason to terminate the season immediately, as has happened in countries such as Belgium. -Dailymail