Why voiding the Premier League amidst coronavirus crisis could prove legally difficult - with Sheffield United and Co. chasing European riches
Since last week's confirmation that the Premier League and EFL have been suspended, until early April at least, debate has raged about the fate of the current football season.
Many fans - who, it must be said, support clubs in danger of relegation - want it scrapped entirely. Others, including supporters of champions-elect Liverpool and those clubs chasing European football, can see no scenario other than completing all the games.
One Sheffield Wednesday fan even offered a theory of using the table as it stood after each club had played the others once - which, coincidentally, placed the Owls third, rather than 15th.
But Simon Leaf, sports lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, believes voiding the leagues will prove legally difficult.
"The Premier League rules stretch to 600 pages but there is not a single rule that directly deals with this type of issue," he told The Star's sister paper, i on Sunday.
"All that’s in there is that the League determines when fixtures take place. It doesn’t say what happens if the season goes on longer than expected.
“I can’t see a position where they would call the season null and void with the table as it is today. From a legal perspective, it would almost certainly be challenged. Any clubs challenging the League ending as it is today would in my view be successful with an appeal.
"They would need to demonstrate it’s not a reasonable course of action for the League to take. There’s nothing saying the League can’t delay the season as long as they need to. Delaying it into the summer or later in the year and potentially delaying next season would arguably be a more sensible approach in the circumstances.”
While there is no suggestion that United would take legal action should they be denied a place in Europe, the unprecedented situation has the potential to see a club consider those measures – if, say, they were denied promotion to the lucrative Premier League, or relegated from it.
Leaf added that any dispute between clubs and the league would be taken to an independent arbitration panel.