There’s only been one season in the history of the Italian top flight that wasn’t played all the way through, and that was the 1914-1915 season of the Prima Categoria (Genoa was awarded the title). With more than a century of precedent, there’s obviously a lot of pressure to finish the campaign, especially so that clubs can try to offset the financial hit they’ve taken without their regular revenues from broadcasting, ticket sales, and merchandising. Too, the clubs at the tops of the leagues are desperate to find out what sorts of rewards—Champions League, Europa League, promotion—they’ve earned.
However, there are some massive obstacles to overcome if that’s going to happen. The most obvious is that nobody knows when the epidemic will be over, or at least over enough to play soccer, even behind closed doors. The FIGC has tentatively scheduled 4 May for the resumption of training, but that’s hard to imagine that when, to quote Referees Association president Marcello Nicchi, “There are still 600 people dying per day.” Even in an empty stadium, the nature of the sport is to put people and their fluids in close proximity for an extended period. Guaranteeing the safety of the players and staff is paramount.
There are also logistical hurdles, such as how to squeeze 12 or 13 matches into a very tight space before the next season begins, especially since the players will need at least a month of training before they’re at playing fitness (and even then, the injury risk is sky high). While there’s a chance that this season is extended into October, that would obviously impact next season as well. There’s also the matter of player contracts, many of which end in July.
As we see it, there are three realistic possibilities for how to finish out this season. Option 1 is to play every remaining match behind closed doors, possibly every 3 days, to wrap this season up. While this would allow for the entire random variance of those remaining 12 or 13 matches to affect a very tight race to the top and the bottom, the risk of infection or injury to players who aren’t fully fit—to say nothing of the state of pitches being used that often—is catastrophic.
Option 2 is to hold a playoff between the top teams to determine the European places. Whether it’s a round robin or an elimination tournament, it would give the top sides the chance to figure out which among them deserve it the most while providing less of a scheduling nightmare. However, that severely penalizes those teams who’ve already played tough schedules and rewards those who’d faced the lightweights twice already. It also puts those teams’ players at much greater risk than anyone else’s for next year.
Option 3 is to leave it to the nerds. There are any number of mathematical models that could look at the season thus far and project the final places in the table for every side. While that would eliminate the risk of infection and injury, it’s also pretty daft to think that anyone would accept the results, even the winner; random variance has such a huge effect on calcio that it’s mad to expect anything else.
That’s without even getting into promotion and relegation (hey look, now we’re MLS haha GOT EEM), although the best solution seems to be promoting the automatic spots from Serie B to Serie A without relegating anyone down, then playing next season with a couple extra fixtures and dropping the bottom five sides; a similar process would work right on down the pyramid.
Let’s ignore the pro/rel talk and just figure out the final standings. Which option do you prefer?
This poll is closed
Something else I’ll write in the comments
Here’s your weekend thread for whatever’s on your mind. Stay loose, yall.