It’s Ridiculous That There’s No Plan In Place For The Season Ending Early

Last season the coronavirus caught everyone by surprise. Fortunately, the vast majority of the season had been complete so it was possible to conclude the campaign on a points per game basis. This was simple at the top with Celtic 13 points clear, but was much more controversial at the bottom of the table. As for the SPFL’s handling of the vote… well the less said about that the better!

Scottish football had an opportunity to learn from the absolute farce of the vote and how they reached their decisions on finishing the season and in terms of league reconstruction. The people governing the game are paid to plan and run the game professionally across the nation. Yet little has changed.

We started the new campaign behind closed doors, as many nations have done. However, it is criminal that there is no contingency plan in place for the event of another early finish to the season. Rumours of a national lockdown are gathering pace, only a fool would not prepare for such a scenario. What if football had to be suspended or the season had to be cancelled?

Things are ever-changing with this virus and who knows what the government will decide in the coming months? It is not good enough to just assume that the season will finish. We hope that is the case, but there should be an agreement in place, a scenario plan, in case that is not possible.

There has to be a clear understanding of how many games need to be played before the season is decided on a points per game basis. We cannot just react when that moment comes and argue over null and void or points per game. Every club should know where they stand.

In my personal opinion, 30 games need to be complete before the season can be concluded fairly. Anything less should see the season declared null and void. Others may have different beliefs on the number of games required to reach a fair conclusion, but the point is that these discussions should have been had and a rule set or voted upon so that everything is sorted in advance. That way there can be no complaints.

What happens if the league gets cancelled next week? The SPFL could decide on points per game, declaring someone a champion so early in the season. That would make next weekend’s game of extreme importance. Surely they wouldn’t do that though, I hear you say… but they COULD. Frankly, anything could happen and it is absolutely absurd to not have a contingency plan in place.

How can clubs pick teams, manage squads and prepare throughout the season if they don’t know where they stand? E.g. Ordinarily, you may rest a player coming back from injury in the 10th game of the season, as the league is not won and lost at such an early stage – there would still be 28 games to make up any deficit. However, if the league could be called on a points per game basis at some point down the line, then every game is must win and you cannot afford to rest anyone coming back from injury. If we understood where the cut off point would be if things get cancelled, then players and managers can make an informed decision.

We are still very early into the campaign, so it’s not too late to get a contingency plan agreed NOW! Hopefully the season is fully completed, but decide the cut off point in the event of an early cancellation, and then there can be no complaints. Reacting is absurd, unfair and irresponsible. After all, three Celtic players are in isolation this week and with two cups, last season’s cup, 38 league games and European competitions to play – there is no guarantee that all the games will be played.

Time to prepare for once. Over to the governing bodies.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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