Well, according to Town boss Paul Lambert it probably is. But instead of trying to play 113 fixtures in just 56 days, it might make more sense to start afresh. In a letter from EFL chairman Rick Parry, after an EFL board meeting last Wednesday, it was decided that the three divisions’ should attempt to play all of its remaining 113 fixtures; and this includes the play-offs, over a period of 56 days and strictly without supporters in attendance.
It is a bold move by the Football league but is the notion built on solid ground? Players are not allowed to resume training until May 16th at the earliest, and as the Ipswich Town manager has suggested before, it takes time for players to get back up to pace. “If you’re talking about just a sporting aspect of the world, they keep on putting dates on it, so it’s the 30th April, then it’s the 16th May, I think it will go longer than that. I don’t see it. They’ve cancelled Wimbledon in July, they’ve cancelled The Open in July. How can you try and fit football in, before those two massive events?”
Surely the most realistic option is to render this season null and void and commence again in August as we would normally do. Yes, this would cause massive controversy within the game for the clubs that are leading all three divisions, and teams in those automatic promotion places, I totally get that. But what is to say that we will be ready to kick-off again within the normal time-frame because even August might be too premature.
In my lifetime, and probably yours, this is a whole new phenomenon and we are all struggling both individually and collectively to cope with it. There are no easy answers but if there was one English division that needs to be completed more than most it is surely the Premier League. It is more feasible too, as they play fewer matches and in all likelihood, the Champions League and the Europe League will be forfeited in the process.
As Lambert alluded to recently, it is the Reds who have a 25 point lead at the top that have the most to lose. “Liverpool have waited 30 years to win the league. Imagine them celebrating at Anfield with no one there. In an ideal world, we will finish the season with supporters in stadiums. The timescale is the problem, we just don’t know when we will be able to start again?” He is of course absolutely right. Nothing seems normal about life and football in general at the moment, and it is impossible to say when some degree of normality will resume.
Back to that letter from Mr Parry and he remains optimistic that the season can be completed as planned. ‘Clearly, we are in a position whereby the 2019/20 campaign will be extended, but still remain hopeful of a conclusion in the summer months. Looking more long-term, the EFL must remain mindful of the implications that the extension of this season may have on the commencement of the 2020/21 campaign, although we will ensure there is a suitable break between the two, so as to allow clubs and staff sufficient time to regroup and prepare accordingly.’
To be brutally frank, I don’t think this is a reasonable proposition, and even if it was to be approved by a Government green light, the knock-on effects would be immense. The EFL should bite the bullet and write-off this season completely in my view, and start again when this COVID-19 outbreak is mitigated sufficiently.