‘Without relegation, Liverpool shouldn’t be given the league’ – Barnes says PL must wait to resume

The former winger says that football must be flexible when the sport does begin again, even if that return is delayed for many months

Former Liverpool star John Barnes says that his former club should not be awarded the Premier League title unless the season is capped off with promotion and relegation.

The Reds maintain a 25-point lead over second-place Manchester City as the league awaits a return from the suspension caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Recently, a June restart has been targeted for Premier League clubs, who will look to follow the lead of the Bundesliga and get back to finishing the season.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says clubs discussed curtailing the season for the first time on Monday, although there’s no concrete plan for how that would take place.

In the Netherlands, the Eredivisie halted promotion and relegation for the season and awarded Champions League and Europa League places by the current table, although Ajax were not awarded the title.

And Barnes says Liverpool shouldn’t be given the Premier League title unless certain standards are met.

When asked if he thinks the Reds should be awarded the trophy currently, he told the Emma Barnett Show: “Not if people aren’t going to be promoted and relegated, no.”

Barnes says that he believes that football should resume if – and only if – it is completely safe for players to do so.

That may take time, and time may be inconvenient financially in a world where football is such a big-money business, but Barnes says finishing the season in the right way has to take priority.

“Obviously you’re talking about big money, lots of money, but that’s to play matches,” he said. “We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about when players can start to train safely, socially distancing.

“We can do that immediately. The different question is when we can start to play again and, for me, you should take your time. No matter how long that takes.

“Either we say we’re never going to play again ever or we’re able to play, whether that’s a year, two years, whatever we decide, why can’t we then finish the nine games and then start the next season straight away? The players will have had three, four months, five months, six months off.

“There’s no need to have more time off, go straight into the next season with the teams that should be relegated and the teams that should be promoted.”

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According to Barnes, that return doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a traditional schedule, either, with the former England star saying the footballing world must understand that flexibility can be used as an advantage.

“Football, school, life isn’t like Christmas. Christmas has to be December 25,” he said. “New Years Day has to be January 1.

“School doesn’t have to be, football doesn’t have to be August until May. You can actually adjust, particularly at time like this where we have to, and it’s not making sacrifices, it’s just changing the time table. It’s what we have to do.”

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