Former Leeds defender Ian Harte has commented on the uncertainty surrounding the 2019/20 football season and what it could mean for those looking at promotion.
Leeds and West Brom have dominated the Championship this season, and United have one foot through the door to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
A decision on the fate of elite English football has yet to be made, but deciding the final standings via a Points Per Game system could be the likeliest option.
Speaking exclusively to Football League World, Harte commented that the Championship leaders and runners-up have been ‘by far the two best teams this season’. Leeds currently lead the table with 71 points but the Baggies are hot on their heels with just one point between the two sides.
“It would be an absolute disaster (if promotion didn’t happen),” the former full-back told FLW. “There’s going to be legal cases all over the shop if Leeds didn’t get promoted because they’ve been waiting patiently to try and get back into the Premier League.”
United’s last season in the Premier League was their 2003/04 campaign and the Whites have been fighting to force their way back into the top flight since they suffered the drop. They came close to their dream last season but were snubbed in the play-off semi-final by Derby County.
This campaign, Leeds have not lost momentum and have established themselves at the top of the table. Notable individual performances such as Patrick Bamford’s clinical displays in front of goal will also be chalked off if the season is to be null and voided.
The most recent update from the Premier League is that the remaining fixtures must be played in neutral venues (via BBC Sport), but several clubs are not happy with this idea. According to reports, the bottom six sides in the top flight are looking for relegation to be scrapped this season if they aren’t allowed to play in their own grounds.
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“Teams have to get relegated and teams have to get promoted, it filters all the way down,” Harte stated. “There’s a big knock-on effect, but that’s why these people are in these jobs.
“Whether it’s Gordon Taylor or the chairman of the EFL, they are going to have to stand up and make those tough decisions, you cannot please everyone, but football needs to know what’s going on.”
If the PPG system is brought into play, Leeds and West Brom will automatically progress into the Premier League, but this method won’t suit everybody. For those at the foot of the top flight, a turnover in the drop-zone could cause upset with teams like Watford – who are 17th in the table – at risk of slipping into the bottom three on PPG.
But no matter what route the authorities go down, some clubs are going to be very unhappy.
“They’ve [Leeds] been unbelievable this season and if they didn’t achieve that [promotion] I think they would be suing.”
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