Four ways to salvage the EPL season: Neil Humphreys
Coronavirus could be death knell for the League Cup
With so much uncertainty surrounding the English Premier League season, here's a four-point proposal to ensure it can be completed and saved, when the time is right for football to return.
1) DROP THE CUPS, MAYBE FOR GOOD
If nothing else, the end of the coronavirus may settle the age-old debate about the age-old tournament. The FA Cup was once prestigious, admired and romanticised by every impressionable teenager, a bit like an 80s boyband.
But tastes change. If the FA Cup was an 80s boyband, then the Champions League is the love child of Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran.
The quality varies, but there's no denying the global popularity. Juergen Klopp already views the world's oldest cup competition in the way a teenager might view a CD, still unable to fathom why your dad still finds the product so appealing.
In comparison, the League Cup is a crackling gramophone that no one cares for any more: not even the winners. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has essentially called for the competition to be scrapped.
The Covid-19 delay may give elite clubs the final push they were looking for.
Finish this season, no matter how long the postponement, and drop the FA Cup and League Cup for next season.
Should smaller clubs protest, then there's the alternative of removing only those that qualify for Europe.
The FA Cup campaign certainly needs to be shortened. And the EPL and the League Cup may part ways for good.
2) DON'T CLOSE TRANSFER WINDOW
Legally, clubs are already in a pickle. Most playing contracts end on June 30, including those of Jan Vertonghen, Willian, Pedro Rodriguez, David Silva and Olivier Giroud.
But the EPL season is unlikely to be over by June 30. The uncertainty of when one season ends and another begins creates a legal minefield.
Keeping the transfer window open until at least January, if not the whole season, will ensure an easier transition from one traumatic season to the next.
With players contracting and recovering from the virus, many others in self-isolation and clubs preoccupied with a dramatic loss of income, there is a pressing need to remove as many logistical obstacles as possible.
For instance, if the season ends in August and the next starts in September with just a few weeks' break, which is doable - players faced a similarly truncated break with Euro 2020 - then the transfer window cannot rise and fall like a guillotine.
Keep it open, for all of next season if necessary. Enable a quicker, smoother flow of talent when it's required most.
3) DROP WINTER BREAK
The thought of footballers playing through the winter and potentially all the way to the postponed Euro 2020 will not be a popular one among the likes of Klopp and Guardiola.
They put their players first. But the game must put its supporters first, now more than ever. The ongoing postponement has already confirmed the blindingly obvious.
Football, like sport generally, brings immeasurable joy. Without it, we drift down a nihilistic helter-skelter, screaming, "What's the point of the weekend?" at innocent bystanders.
Sport isn't important now, but it will be again. And once football resumes, it can steadily rebuild momentum until next year's European Championship.
Players will be returning after a lengthy, unprecedented break. Should they skip the lesser domestic trophies, elite squads can sidestep the fixture overload that drove Klopp to distraction last December.
When English football eventually recovers, the last thing the EPL wants is another enforced break.
4) NO OVERSEAS CASH GRABS FOR A YEAR
Clubs serve their own interests, even in times of crisis.
Yesterday, the Daily Mail reported that eight of the top 10 EPL clubs submitted a joint application to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over Manchester City. Basically, the clubs want City's two-year Champions League ban upheld.
As the world dealt with the coronavirus, the clubs demanded that City's punishment for breaching Financial Fair Play rules was upheld.
In terms of current priorities, the optics were awful. But the story offered a harsh reminder that self-interest often dictates.
So, do not be surprised if the same clubs calling for winter breaks and fewer fixtures will hit the lucrative tour circuit at the first opportunity.
Covid-19 has ruled out the pre-season tours of Asia, but once the pandemic ends, the demand for revenue resumes.
Singapore, Malaysia, China and North America all have EPL fans willing to pay over-the-odds for underwhelming exhibition football.
But the clubs cannot go. Surely, a 12-month period that will be expected to finish this season, complete the next one and squeeze in the European Championship and Copa America will have no wiggle room to indulge lucrative tours of foreign cities.
That kind of travel can wait. The EPL must get its house in order first.