EPL

Coronavirus: Premier League, FA and FIFA must unite to rescue game, says lawyer

By Sports Desk March 24, 2020

Football's most powerful leaders must set aside their differences to rescue the game from its coronavirus crisis, a leading expert has said.

In a sport riven with spats and disagreements, a common goal has emerged since the world's top leagues ground to an abrupt halt.

With large parts of global society on government-imposed lockdowns to prevent the COVID-19 spread, sport is firmly on hold.

Yet it must resume eventually, and talks are taking place to determine when and how that can come about, with discussions ongoing about the possibility of behind-closed-doors Premier League games.

West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady last week questioned the implications for the English top division, and executives throughout the multi-billion-dollar industry will be considering their next steps.

Richard Cramer, a lawyer with UK-based sports law firm Front Row Legal, says relationships in football could be pushed to the brink.

But he believes it is realistic to be confident "that whatever decision is taken is definitely going to be the right one", given the experience of the decision-makers within clubs, national associations and the likes of UEFA and FIFA.

In an interview with Stats Perform, Cramer explained: "All the chief executives, the power-brokers within sport, will want to see everybody within their league or their own particular sector trying to agree on a unanimous basis, because what unanimous votes do is create certainty, and it eliminates those clubs that are feeling disenfranchised, which is usually the recipe for litigation. So, everyone is trying right now, I would imagine, to get full agreement.

"What we have seen which is so far very good is, number one, Premier League agree unanimous initial lockdown until April 3. Then they've agreed unanimously to go to April 30, and when they do resume, which will probably be I would imagine maybe June time - I think they're talking about June 1 - they'll want everybody within the Premier League, all the clubs, all the chief executives, to go with a unanimous vote on that one. And it's the same with the EFL [English Football League].

"Then you've got all the governing bodies - the Football Association, the EFL, the Premier League, FIFA, UEFA - and all of those organisations will want to work as one unit, which is quite unusual really because usually there are tensions and those organisations might be at loggerheads.

"But in a perverse sort of way, this unbelievable scenario we are in now might bring a closer unity between all sports and between clubs."

According to Cramer, any outlier in discussions where there is otherwise consensus may ultimately be shouted down, and the greater the unity, the less the threat of legal action at the end of this period of unprecedented disruption.

"If in the end an individual club is not happy with the decision, they may just be so marginalised that they've got no support from anybody, so their protests or their grievances might not carry a great deal of weight," said Cramer.

"So, because we're in such a unique scenario, I actually think litigation is probably highly unlikely if the governing bodies make the correct decision.

"That, I think, is where probably everybody will want to go with this, but relationships are going to be tested. There's no rule book on this one, but if everybody works together, I believe that common sense will prevail and we will make the right decisions."

Related items

  • Riga 0-1 Celtic: Elyounoussi digs Bhoys out of a hole with late winner in Europa League Riga 0-1 Celtic: Elyounoussi digs Bhoys out of a hole with late winner in Europa League

    Mohamed Elyounoussi scored a 90th-minute winner to dig Celtic out of a hole and clinch an underwhelming 1-0 Europa League qualifying victory at Riga, securing a spot in the play-off round.

    Neil Lennon's men were poor for long periods of the match, struggling to make the most of their superiority and undoubtedly greater quality, but substitute Elyounoussi finally found the breakthrough right at the end.

    A collection of Riga fans in open-top buses behind one of the goals will not have been enough to intimidate Celtic, but the Scottish champions were significantly lacking invention for much of the game, managing only two shots on target in the first period.

    Jeremie Frimpong, brought on for the injured James Forrest in the opening 45 minutes, showed some initiative and was unsurprisingly the one to craft Elyounoussi's goal, which secured a clash with either Sarajevo or Buducnost in the final qualifying round.

    It took Celtic – who were eliminated from Champions League qualification by Ferencvaros – 36 minutes to begin offering any kind of attacking threat on top of their control of the ball, with Olivier Ntcham's 30-yard piledriver forcing Roberts Ozols to tip over.

    The goalkeeper had a slightly easier save to make soon after, pouncing on Nir Bitton's disappointingly tame effort from the centre of the box.

    Celtic endured a slow start to the second period as well but went close with an hour played, Frimpong finding Ryan Christie in the area for a shot at Ozols after skipping past a challenge.

    Frimpong was again the chief threat to Riga's defence with a little over 15 minutes to go, but Albian Ajeti – introduced a few moments earlier – met his cross and somehow appeared to block his own shot from point-blank range.

    Celtic eventually found the winner late on, Elyounoussi meeting Frimpong's low delivery and guiding it into the bottom-left corner.

  • Shkendija 1-3 Tottenham: Son the difference as Spurs scrape through again Shkendija 1-3 Tottenham: Son the difference as Spurs scrape through again

    Tottenham again made hard work of Europa League progress as a scrappy 3-1 win at Shkendija took Jose Mourinho's men into the play-off round.

    Spurs had survived a major scare in the previous qualifying stage last week, coming from behind to beat nine-man Lokomotiv Plovdiv with two late goals in Bulgaria.

    And the trip to North Macedonia threatened to prove similarly troublesome when Valmir Nafiu cancelled out Erik Lamela's fifth-minute strike.

    A visiting team including debutant Joe Hart and the returning Dele Alli toiled for a time until Son Heung-min - fresh from a four-goal salvo at Southampton - restored the lead and then turned provider for Harry Kane, whose goal ensured a play-off with Maccabi Haifa.

    Lamela's opener looked to have teed up a straightforward evening for Tottenham, found completely free by Son on the right side of the area to slide a calm finish inside the bottom-left corner.

    Spurs dominated but did not threaten again until Toby Alderweireld headed narrowly wide in the 26th minute, with Kostadin Zahov then saving Alli's scruffy eight-yard effort.

    Further Tottenham openings followed in the second half without causing Zahov undue concern and Shkendija were level against the run of play after 55 minutes.

    Ljupco Doriev fizzed a pass right to Nafiu, who arrowed a sensational effort high past Hart into the top-right corner.

    Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and then Lucas Moura were called from the Spurs bench, yet the England captain followed Lamela in squandering a big headed chance with the goal gaping.

    Son was clinical when his chance came, though, controlling as Zahov parried Lucas' shot and firing into the roof of the net.


    What does it mean? Spurs forced to turn to stars

    Having repeatedly bemoaned Tottenham's tough schedule, Mourinho would have been frustrated to see a team missing Kane, Lo Celso and Lucas fail to get the job done.

    He was therefore forced to call on the rested trio just three days before the visit of Newcastle United. It paid dividends, but the starting XI - Son apart - did themselves and their coach few favours.

    Son the Spurs star

    Given the focus Mourinho is placing on the Europa League, Son's display here might even be considered more important than his stunning performance against Southampton.

    His poise in the area had already prompted the breakthrough goal for Lamela, but two more telling contributions were required in the final 20 minutes to advance. The winger created four chances in all.

    Dele disappoints

    Mourinho said this week Alli - back in action for the first time since his half-time substitution in the defeat to Everton - held "99 per cent" of the responsibility for the improvement he required.

    The coach did not appear overly enthused by this display, expressing his frustration with Alli on a couple of occasions, as the midfielder missed a big first-half chance and won just one of his six duels while failing to register a tackle or interception before he was replaced by Kane.

    What's next?

    Spurs must now travel back to London ahead of hosting Newcastle at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

    Kane created each of Son's four goals in their previous Premier League game, but the roles were reversed as Tottenham made sure of their place in the next round, a cross from the left met with a firm downward header.

  • Riga 0-1 Celtic: Elyounoussi digs Bhoys out of a hole with later winner in Europa League Riga 0-1 Celtic: Elyounoussi digs Bhoys out of a hole with later winner in Europa League

    Mohamed Elyounoussi scored a 90th-minute winner to dig Celtic out of a hole and clinch an underwhelming 1-0 Europa League qualifying victory at Riga, securing a spot in the play-off round.

    Neil Lennon's men were poor for long periods of the match, struggling to make the most of their superiority and undoubtedly greater quality, but substitute Elyounoussi finally found the breakthrough right at the end.

    A collection of Riga fans in open-top buses behind one of the goals will not have been enough to intimidate Celtic, but the Scottish champions were significantly lacking invention for much of the game, managing only two shots on target in the first period.

    Jeremie Frimpong, brought on for the injured James Forrest in the opening 45 minutes, showed some initiative and was unsurprisingly the one to craft Elyounoussi's goal, which secured a clash with either Sarajevo or Buducnost in the final qualifying round.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.