As the Premier League attempts to find ways to restart the 2019-20 season, ESPN reports a growing number of players are expressing reservations about getting back on the field. The league's Project Restart scheme is facing backlash among the league's players. At this point, the EPL should shut things down and name Liverpool champions.
Liverpool currently leads the table with 82 points, while second place Manchester City has 57. There was almost zero chance City could have caught up anyway. Liverpool was 27-1-1 with nine matches remaining, so it's highly unlikely the Reds were going to suffer a devastating losing streak. The league should just treat the season as if it was complete and work towards starting the 2020-21 campaign as close to on-time as possible.
The bottom line for the EPL's owners and executives is if players are against playing, even proposing a return is moronic. Premier League leadership will discuss Project Restart on Friday but the proposal is dead in the water if players don't buy in.
The EPL shut down on March 13 and on April 3 it was announced matches were suspended indefinitely. Rumors suggest Project Restart will push to start games the weekend of June 13. The plan is for all 92 remaining matches to be played over a six-week period after a three-week training period. Some clubs have already returned to their training grounds but others have not.
ESPN's report suggests many players are not on board with restarting the season while social distancing guidelines are still in effect for everyone else. Is it really smart to cram players and staff into facilities together, then have opposing teams interacting if the rest of the country is still observing social distancing? And, let's be real, soccer can't be played while safely social distancing.
The only rational move is to treat 2019-20 as a special circumstance and declare the season over. Liverpool would be champions, while Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester United would secure Champions League qualification (Manchester City is ineligible for UEFA competition due to financial fair play violations). That would put Wolverhampton and Sheffield United into the Europa League.
Honestly, this could be unfair to some teams. For example, Bournemouth would be relegated despite tying Watford and West Ham United with 27 points. In a longer season the club might have been able to dig its way out, but in the end, these are extraordinary times and everyone will have to deal with it.
This is certainly not the way Liverpool wanted to finally win a league title. This is just the only logical move for the league.