Unfathomable’ if teams relegated

Sport

Brighton owner Tony Bloom believes relegation should be scrapped if the Premier League season cannot be finished, claiming that it would be “unfathomable” a club could be doomed to the Championship by “0.2 points”.

The English top flight, in common with major leagues throughout Europe, has been suspended for over a month owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most teams in the top flight still have nine games to play, while June 30 is no longer being mentioned as a potential cut-off date for the campaign to conclude. The uncertainty means speculation over how the term will proceed, if at all, has continued to run rampant in British media.

Last week, the Scottish Professional Football League’s decision to prematurely end the season immediately across the lower tiers sent the rumour mill into overdrive.

Scotland’s 42 professional clubs made a majority decision, meaning Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared champions of the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.

The vote also applies to the Scottish Premiership.

Although the top tier will not be called off until at least April 23, the earliest date governing body Uefa would accept the abandonment of leagues to avoid the possibility of being barred from European competitions, Celtic look set to be crowned champions for the ninth straight time on a points per game basis.

Neil Lennon’s men lead second-placed Rangers by 13 points, having played one game extra, and with the Belgian league also recommending its competition finishes early – there is one round left in the regular season before the play-offs – there are fears that the English top flight could follow its lead should the worst-case scenario arise.

But Bloom feels the authorities will not countenance such a drastic measure as it would irreparably damage the league’s integrity.

“I don’t foresee a situation, if the season’s not played out, that teams will get relegated on a points-per-game basis,” he said.

“I just don’t think it’s fathomable that a team which is not allowed to play out the season may lose out on 0.2 points based on this system.

“It also does not take into account the strength of the team you have not played.”

If the season cannot go on, the Seagulls, as things stand, would stay up as they sit in 15th place on 29 points, two above the drop zone.

Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich were in the bottom three when the league was suspended on March 13.

West Ham and Watford also have 27 points from 29 games like the 18th-placed Cherries, but both have a slightly better goal difference.

“You may get a title winner, obviously Liverpool (who are 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City) deserve it, you may use that criteria for European qualification,” Bloom added.

“But I do not see how anyone can vote for that, certainly the per cent needed (majority 70 per cent), for teams to get relegated. I really cannot foresee that.”