Leeds United were given a huge promotion boost on Friday when it was reported by the Times that the FA will block any move to get rid of relegation from the top flight and declare the Premier League null and void.
The FA have special powers of veto given to them when the Premier League came into being, with the relevant section including “any amendment to, removal of or waiver of . . . the number of members and promotion to and relegation from the League.”
The Premier League is set to meet on Monday but some clubs near the bottom are expected to oppose the plans to play in neutral venues.
Watford – one off the bottom three – have become the latest to object to these plans and Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury has been explicit in saying this is obviously self-interest.
The Times claims one club wants relegation taken off the table – which could have a disastrous impact on Leeds – but the FA will back the Premier League’s position.
That means that even if the season is ended early, relegation would likely be decided on sporting merit – probably on a points-per-game system.
Null and voiding the season was probably the only scenario where Leeds don’t get promoted this season and this effectively takes this off the table.
The term sporting merit has been used to describe how to end seasons early and there is no credible method where Leeds would end up outside of the top two.
The rebel clubs in the Premier League are manoeuvering to try to ensure their places in the top flight but it’s now obvious that, for the bottom three at least, the only way to do this is to play the remaining games.
However, one consequence of this Times report is that it might be in the interests of teams outside the top three but at risk of relegation to end the season now.
Is it a coincidence that Watford’s Duxbury has broken cover now, with his side one place ahead of the drop zone?
Aston Villa have played one game less but have less than a point per game and wouldn’t get out of the top three under a PPG end.
That would see Watford survive if the season was ended early. The self-interest might be unedifying but at least it shouldn’t affect Leeds now.
In other Leeds United news, ‘We’re hearing’ – Jim White claims Championship clubs readying for ‘civil war’ with Leeds