Liverpool may miss out on league title over coronavirus
In a dramatic decision which could likely reverberate down to grassroots level, Liverpool would be denied the top-flight title and struggling teams would be saved from dropping down.
Sports matches across the continent have been thrown into jeopardy as governments firefight the spread of infection.
To prevent person-to-person contamination in large crowds, officials are understood to be mulling the possibility of scrapping the remainder of the Premier League should an outbreak hit Britain.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, which is marching towards the title, have ‘no guarantee’ of being crowned champions should the season end prematurely, according to the Telegraph.
‘No specific regulation’ is in place should such a scenario unfold, but stopping all league-to-league movement would snatch the promotion ambitions of clubs poised to move up a level.
More than 80,000 people in close to 50 countries have been infected with the virus so far – with 2,800 confirmed to have died.
Switzerland’s government made the decision on Friday to cancel all events set to involve 1,000 people or more in their efforts to tackle the disease, with all football fixtures called off this weekend.
If the Premier League were to follow suit following mirroring advice from the UK government, Liverpool could miss out.
There are 11 matches remaining in the Premier League season with Liverpool cruising to their first top-flight title in 30 years.
But the virus is spreading quickly across Europe and it has increased fears that the UK government could ‘opt to cancel sporting events for two months’.
In the event of a suspension or cancellation, it is reported that ‘crisis talks’ are likely to be held to determine if the previous 27 rounds of matches would be available to stand.
Liverpool has won 26 matches so far in a stunning campaign with one draw to Manchester United earlier in the campaign the only thing preventing them from a flawless run to the title.
Klopp’s side needs just four more wins to claim the Premier League title and any move to take that away from them would prove highly controversial.
Any suspension of matches would raise further issues around European qualification and relegation at the time of the suspension, particularly with both of those situations in the balance, rather than Liverpool being far and away from the team all set to win the league.
Chelsea is currently fourth in the race for the Champions League while Manchester United are three points behind in sixth, Tottenham and Sheffield United are four points behind in seventh and eighth respectively.
Norwich, Watford and West Ham sit in the relegation zone but are far from condemned and with a need for consistency in the decision making, should the virus could to spread and get worse across the UK, all results could be wiped with no title or relegation for the 2019-20 campaign.
UK coronavirus cases have risen to 19 and there are growing fears large-scale events will need to be postponed to prevent a rise in cases.
The Premier League have said they currently have no plans to end pre-match handshakes in a bid to tackle the passing of the virus.
Newcastle revealed on Friday that they have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid the fear of coronavirus.
The Magpies have long since had a training-ground tradition whereby players and staff greet one another with a handshake every morning.