The coronavirus pandemic has forced Premier League to an unexpected halt, which upon resumption can see massive changes
The Premier League season saw a sudden halt after England was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the Premier League came to a halt compared to the leagues in other countries, it had to be done as Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive. As of now, there is no guarantee as to when the league might resume. However, with the number of positive cases rising with each passing day, it might not be any time soon.
However, if the season gets voided, this would be unfair to a number of clubs. Liverpool are 25 points at the top of the table and they need to win two more games to seal the title for them. Voiding the season would deny Pool the chance to win the league after 30 long years.
Leicester City and Sheffield United are also pushing for European football. Cancelling the season would deny them that opportunity. Cancelling would also raise questions about qualifications to European football, and promotion and relegation between the divisions. Thus, no decisions regarding these questions have been taken yet.
However, the English Football League, Premier League, Professional Footballers’ Association, Football Association, and League Managers’ Association are conducting several meetings to reach an agreement. And according to reports, when the league resumes, there can be drastic changes for the remainder of the season.
What changes will happen?
If the Premier League resumes by the end of May, it will wrap up by the end of July. This means that the teams will play more often rather than once a week. They have 11 more games to play, and this will create exhaustion. Keeping that mind, teams may be field five substitutes per match rather than the regular three.
Currently, Premier League teams name seven players on their bench and can use three at most. This is in accordance with FIFA rules for competitive matches. Managers, club officials and medical staff believe it would avoid injuries and muscle strains to key players.
Another change will be to the use of Visual Assistant Referees. The use of VAR might be stopped for the rest of the season. This is because matches will take place behind closed doors. That would mean all players, staff and emergency services all needing to be in quarantine together, as per a report in the Daily Express. A VAR team consists of at least three people, including one referee at the Stockley Park base, which could cause another problem regarding social distancing. Premier League fans will be happy if VAR is not used anymore.
VAR and the Premier League
The fans in the Premier League love to hate VAR, or at least how it works in England. In the Premier League, the VAR checks for offsides, penalties, red cards, and mistaken identities.
For offsides, in other leagues, VAR reviews the goal after it has gone into the net. This does not stop the flow of the game. However, in PL the referee can stop the play and consult the VAR. This has led to some comical decisions where a goal was cancelled because the players elbow was offside. Such actions are almost unheard of in other leagues. This is the major bone of contention fans have with the VAR. Some has even called it the enemy of football.
Also in other leagues, the referees need to consul the monitor at the touchline to make decisions on subjective calls alongside the advices from the VAR team. VAR calls on offside, the ball being in or out of play or location of fouls can be accepted without viewing the images. However, in the Premier League, the referees need not use the monitor as major decisions are taken by the VAR team.
These differences in the implementation of VAR has caused major discontent in the Premier League.