Former Wanderers striker Alan Gowling believes that ‘freezing’ the current Premier League and EFL season would be the best way forward for football.
Several theories have been bandied around on how the 2019/20 season could be settled – and though the league’s official stance is that it will try to resume competitive football, most people within the game feel a return before next season in the bottom two divisions is unlikely.
The Premier League is investigating neutral venues to play their remaining games, while clubs in the Championship also remain committed to playing the last nine games.
Ex-Manchester United and Newcastle United front man, Gowling, who is also a regular co-commentator on BBC Radio Manchester, feels a simple solution has been overlooked.
“You have no promotion or relegation for now – we just freeze the whole thing and then start up in August or early September when, hopefully, we are in a better position to handle it,” he told The Bolton News.
“We have the same fixture list – the same number of games you’d play in a regular season – but the points you have earned this season still count.
“So if you are Liverpool, for example, you have a 20-point start on the rest. And if they can’t win the title from there, something is wrong.”
Football has been in lockdown since March and some players have voiced concern that the game is looking to start up again despite the country still being in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic.
With no cure on the immediate horizon and testing still limited in the UK, several players have voiced concern that the authorities are pushing to return.
Gowling believes his theory could reduce some of the stress, “We won’t have players frightened to go back into the training ground,” he said.
“At the moment you have people understandably concerned about their safety, their family’s safety, and I can’t really blame them.
“I don’t really see the rush to get it all done now. Surely it is better to pack things up, have a pre-season, get people fit over a period of time and then de-ice the whole thing further down the line?
“It seems like a simple idea to me. Some of the other suggestions I have heard have been absurd.”
Clubs – and particularly those outside the top two divisions – face an uncertain financial future without income for the foreseeable future. Gowling hopes broadcasters who have helped to expand the Premier League ‘bubble’ will be there to ensure it does not burst completely.
“I understand that to pack football away would be financially difficult for some clubs but surely there is a way of the big TV companies forwarding money to prevent them going out of business?” he said.
“If Sky really do want to show football in the future, now is the time to step up and show their commitment.
“It is an unprecedented situation that football is facing, so it needs people to start thinking a little differently.”