Indefinite extension of EPL raises issues: Richard Buxton
Amid uncertainty caused by coronavirus, teams must make health a priority
Football may be in uncharted territory but the English Premier League is still a law unto itself.
The so-called greatest league in the world continues to dance to its own tune following last night's announcement that games will remain on hiatus until April 30, at least, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If nothing else, the news was a victory for advocates of its perceived integrity.
Liverpool legends Phil Thompson and John Barnes have racked up more airtime in the 48 hours leading up to the latest decision than the pair were afforded in esteemed playing careers.
Their argument was that the 2019/20 season had to carry on for the good of the game.
Clearly the majority of top- flight clubs disagree with Homer Simpson's assertion that default is the sweetest word in the English language after acceding to the pleas of the Anfield old guard.
Or they just dislike Karren Brady.
West Ham United's vice-chairman was fooling no one when she made the transparent suggestion to declare the current campaign null and void.
Similarly, the EPL executives are lying to themselves in believing that the game's timetable can be shifted to suit their own agenda.
Uefa's insistence that all club football must be finalised, one way or another, by June 30 flies in the face of plans that would see England hosting the season that never truly has an end.
Indefinitely extending the EPL's traditional cut-off date places it on a collision course with the second-most powerful organisation in the global game and potentially leaves Champions League and Europa League qualification places in jeopardy for the forthcoming season.
But the repercussions of willingly breaking step from their continental counterparts stretch beyond the genuine threat to the lofty ambitions of teams currently in the top-six positions.
Starting from less than zero at two-thirds of the way into the season will have a cumulative knock-on effect.
Psychological fatigue after five weeks' downtime promises to be seismic.
Most teams are yet to resume full training due to precautionary lockdowns at their clubs.
When Arsenal and Chelsea both get back to business, they are likely to do so without key personnel after Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi both tested positive for the coronavirus.
A congested fixture list from fulfilling the demands of myriad cup competitions as well as TV broadcasters is set to resurface with a vengeance to ensure the remaining 92 matches are completed in a timely fashion.
Weekend and midweek games will again exist simultaneously.
The sacrilegious prospect of them being played behind closed doors is still considered far more appealing to the EPL than the alternative of taking a £750 million (S$1.28 billion) hit for failing to fulfil the final nine rounds of fixtures.
Money, it seems, supersedes mortality.
That ongoing lack of self-awareness is the league's greatest enemy.
Its importance has become secondary at a time when the world is facing an unprecedented pandemic.
The coronavirus' increasing global spread has laid bare the folly of their best-case scenarios.
Sometime before April 30, the EPL will again be forced to confront reality.
Neither they nor their stakeholders know more about the impact of Covid-19 than actual medical professionals.
Science, rather than scheduling, must guide their definitive next move.
Tangible back-up plans need to be outlined if the 2019/20 season cannot resume by its planned return date.
The EPL can no longer continue to write cheques that its body is incapable of cashing.