Five Reasons, Five Fixes: Salvaging Foreign Football

Look around you. It’s likely rather easy to, assuming that you’ve heeded the advice of your more prudent local officials and remained indoors. The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has completely ravaged the world as of right now, serving as the century’s first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that could very well define a generation. But this is merely the background.

As a result of this pandemic, a considerable amount of football leagues—the English Premier League, Ligue 1, MLS, Serie A (especially, as they play in Italy, the worst-affected of the European countries to date), the Bundesliga, and countless others—have shuttered play for the foreseeable future, this practice itself matched by the International Olympic Committee. This virus is serious.

With play suspended for the foreseeable future, this more than likely means that we will not be witnessing UEFA Champions League or EURO 2020 competition for a long time, and while we understand this to be a fair concession in the interest of the public good, how can we rectify this situation without potentially confusing schedules for quite some time? I can think of something.

Here’s what we can do, and it’s a bit more simple than expected.

Step 1: Declare the 2020-21 football campaign a lost cause. We’ve already lost the latter half of 2020 to Coronavirus, and it would be madness to assume that play could resume any time before the season is scheduled to end as it is. Coronavirus must be properly contained, treated, and eradicated, and this can only happen by continuing and building upon many of these quarantine/treatment measures that we’ve witnessed thus far. This season will be cancelled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, but will not see a significant loss of play. Here’s how.

Step 2: As far as the British and European leagues are concerned, it would be wise to postpone league and cup play until later this year, somewhere between August and October 2020. Assuming Coronavirus is under control by then, this will essentially reset the clock for the 2020-21 season and treat it as cancelled, while completing the 2019-20 campaign between August and January. This may very well be necessary. As for American leagues, which operate on a January to December schedule, it is more likely for this whole season to be cancelled in total, as doing this would make it possible for the 2021 campaign to begin unmolested.

Step 3: Complete Champions/Europa League play at about the same time as league play resumes, allowing for players to maintain a certain rhythm heading into Summer 2021. If UEFA is able to secure scheduled matches for its leagues between October and December, leagues will be able to wrap up their seasons given that clubs will have roughly twelve whole weeks to do so. With around 27-29 matches played, most clubs have between 9-11 fixtures remaining. With that much time to complete any outstanding fixtures, UEFA will be able to finish their Champions/Europa League Matches with more than enough time in hand in January 2021.

Step 4: After a break, schedule the UEFA Euro 2020 between February/March and April 2021. This tournament lasts about one month, give or take, but matches being spread out will allow for rescheduling in the event of any external, Coronavirus-related crises, should they continue to arise. Once those fixtures are scheduled, players will have ample time to prepare for this uniquely-scheduled tournament, and play will resume without any anticipated incidents. This will then be followed by the Olympics later in the year. We hope.

Step 5Begin the 2021-2022 UEFA football season and have a good time, so long as Manchester City win the league and either they or PSG win Champions League. I will not be moved on this, so let’s just move on.

These ideas are possible, but are they likely to be implemented? Only time will tell. Television networks likely want to have something to televise, and there are certainly a great deal of financial implications that wish to see these various leagues see their fixtures out. My proposal reasonably satisfies almost all sides involved, at the expense of what was once called the 2020-21 footballing season, itself already symbolically doomed as a result of everything that’s going on.

As an avowed Manchester City fan and adopted Paris Saint-Germain supporter (as a result of my relocation), it’s a bit bittersweet. I want to see both PSG, who were able to defeat Dortmund and advance, and Manchester City, who currently lead Real Madrid (!) 2-1 on aggregate with a return match at the Etihad in Manchester, potentially make a real splash in Champions League play this season.

At the same time, if we cancel this EPL season, it delivers a tragically ironic middle finger to rival Liverpool FC, who (after losing the league on the last match day last season) were only a few weeks away from securing their first-ever league title.

But at the same time, various records witnessed by City fans, such as now-legendary striker Sergio Agüero’s record-setting achievement of becoming the most prolific foreign goal scorer in Premier League history and many others, would be erased in the event of a cancellation.

As much as I don’t want to see Liverpool win the title, they’ve certainly earned it this season, and I believe it would be good for them. City will get it back next season, I’m sure. My proposal prevents any cancellation from taking place. We can fix football in the new year. Let’s see what happens.

Stay safe and inside, everyone.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Boca Raton, Ricky J. Marc, J.D., M.S. is an alumnus of the Obama White House and Cornell Paris Institute, a former Legislative Aide with both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, and a graduate of St. Thomas University with a Juris Doctor and Master of Science in Sports Administration.

Ricky currently resides in Paris, France and is the co-host of STICK TO SPORTS: A Sports Podcast (That Isn’t) & The RJM Experience, available anywhere podcasts are streamed. Follow him on Twitter @RickyJMarc.

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