What happens in football over the next few months is shrouded in uncertainty, but we know enough to be able to narrow the field of possibilities down. Uefa meet on Tuesday to discuss the crisis when they will almost certainly cancel the Euros, ending all online betting on Euro 2020, and confirm that no Champions League or Europa League games will take place between now and the summer.
Sorry to mention the dirty little subject, but the worldwide game is facing financial turmoil like never before (more on this later), having lost club and national Uefa games between now and the summer, all parties need to ensure that income-generating European competitions take place next season. A new timetable will emerge, but basic necessity requires Uefa to come out of Tuesday’s meeting with a plan for next season’s Champions League and Europa League, at the very least.
In order to hold these competitions next season, individual countries need champions and qualifiers from other positions. Whatever else remains unknown, we can be sure that next season’s Champions and Europa Leagues will be scheduled; champions will be determined by June or July at the latest.
Another fact we can be very sure of, it that epidemiology projections indicate no football will take place until July at the earliest. This temporary postponement will become permanent before it expires. National leagues are finished across Europe.
In Scotland and England, clear champions are in place. If you are a Lazio fan, this looked like being your season, but the league is finished, Juventus’ tiny advantage will make them champions.
Hearts have blown their season but I do not think there is a single Hearts fan who would honestly object to relegation at this point. When you set aside all the transient bluster, football fans know they need to take their medicine when they are not good enough. We saw the same attitude in many Rangers fans eight years ago, who wanted Newco to start at the bottom of the pile, despite the financial advantages of getting a hand up.
Dundee United will be promoted. A play-off between Hamilton Accies, Inverness, Dundee and Ayr United can be held immediately prior to the new season, to determine who plays in the top flight. The Scottish Cup has three games left, this too can take place prior to kick-off next season.
Less than a week ago, I advocated playing the remainder of the season behind closed doors, but the health tsunami facing society makes that impossible. Football will need all of the income it can get when normality resumes. The critical path from that financial necessity determines that all countries need to know their champions and qualifiers for European competitions – and that means we have no choice but to draw the line now.
For years I have played over celebrating nine-in-a-row. There will be no celebrations this year, in this respect, we have been robbed, but we all have far more important concerns right now.
We will cover the hugely significant financial implications of the crisis in the coming days.