There have been a whole host of Premier League fixtures that have already been postponed due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases across the 20 Premier League clubs. To be exact, there have been 13 postponed games so far, with 2 of them involving Manchester United (Brentford and Brighton respectively).
This creates a bit of a wild problem for the league table. Manchester United currently sit 6th in the table 2 points of Wolves in 8th. However, they have two games in hand on the current top 4 of the Premier League, and are 5 points behind Arsenal in 4th. In theory, this means that if United were to win those two games in hand, they would be in 4th place.
However, Tottenham Hotspur, who sit in 7th and are 1 point behind United, have three games in hand on the top 4, meaning if they won all their games in hand, they would be 4th in the table… It’s all theoretical and makes almost no sense.
But of course, these games need to be changed from theory in to reality and fitted in to the football calender somewhere – meaning something else needs to make way to allow this.
It has been rumoured in the last week or so that the Premier League may introduce a “circuit breaker” period where no games are played, allowing clubs to get a grip on the growing COVID-19 crisis that’s caused all these cancellations.
However, in an emergency meeting on Monday between the league and the 20 clubs it was decided that this mini-suspention of the league would not go ahead.
In a statement, the Premier League said: “While recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges, it is the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.”
To fit the postponed Premier League fixtures in, the Telegraph report that the FA have in principle agreed to scrap replays for both the third and fourth rounds in an effort to help make space for the rescheduled fixtures.
They have also agreed in principle to this because they expect more disruption as time goes on, with chief football writter for the Times Henry Winter deducing that games being played once again behind closed doors looking “increasingly likely”.
The FA Cup does have a certain magic to it, and FA Cup replays are part of that. They are fairly unique in cup competitions, with most draws being decided on the night via penalties.
FA Cup replays are slowly being phased out the competition, and with quarter-final replays being scrapped back in 2016 alongside last season’s replays in every round being scrapped all together due to the coronavirus pandemic, FA Cup replays feel doomed to become a thing of the past.