Football in Spain has been temporarily put on hold as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the possibility that no more games could be played in what remains of the 2019-20 season, the champions of LaLiga and those who will drop down a division is up in the air and RFEF president Luis Rubiales has confirmed that there are four possible scenarios. In two of them, Barcelona would end as champions of LaLiga and Cádiz as champions of the Second Division, gaining automatic promotion to LaLiga Santander. The final decision will be made on 25 March by a commission formed by members of the RFEF and LaLiga. If both parties cannot reach an agreement, Rubiales will make the final decision.
Who would decide the outcome of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank?
According to the Coordination Agreement signed by Javier Tebas and Luis Rubiales in July 2019, the final standings of both divisions would have to be decided by mutual agreement by LaLiga and the RFEF, under Article VI of the agreement.
First scenario: Play all of the remaining games
LaLiga has postponed the next two matchdays of the competition (Weeks 28 and 29 in the LaLiga Santander and 32 and 33 in LaLiga SmartBank). That measure will be in place for the next fortnight but could be extended if necessary. The main problem with regards to completing all 38 games is the calendar – there simply wouldn’t be enough dates available for the games to take place. Decisions made during the next few weeks by UEFA concerning the Champions League, the Europa League – as well as this summer’s Euro 2020, which is due to start on 12 June, will determine whether both domestic and European competitions can be completed.
There are just two free dates in the fixtures calendar for the postponed matches to be played – 18 April and 20 May. If the Champions League calendar is suspended or modified (all ties to be played over one leg instead of two) that would free up more dates; another possibility would be to push back the Euros to next year. Doing that would free up the whole of June when all of the postponed games could be played.
Second scenario: declare the season null and void
If the situation deteriorates and the suspension of matches is extended to a point where it is impossible to reschedule all of the postponed games, the RFEF and LaLiga could declare this season null and void. In that case, there wouldn’t be a champion in any of the domestic competitions – nor would any teams be promoted or relegated. All of the same teams would start the following season in the same category as this season.
Third scenario: end the season now, on Week 27
So far, 27 matchdays have been played in LaLiga. One of the possibilities to decide the outcome of the season would be to declare it finished now. That would leave Barcelona as LaLiga champions, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad as Spain’s representatives in next season’s Champions League; Getafe and Atlético would qualify for the Europa League, and Mallorca, Leganés and Espanyol would drop down to the Second Division. Cádiz and Zaragoza would automatically gain promotion.
This is not an entirely feasible option for one reason – not all of the clubs have faced each other the same number of times and that would be against the very essence of the competition. The Federation have stated that the purity of LaLiga must be maintained – which is why they are sop against playing certain matches abroad.
Fouth scenario: base the league on the results of the first round of matches
Another potential way of deciding LaLiga if no more matches can be played would be to backtrack to where all the teams finished at the halfway point – the team which topped the table after the first round of games would be crowned champions, with the teams in the final three places relegated. At least that way, all of the clubs would have faced each other once. In that scenario, Barcelona would end as LaLiga champions – beating Real Madrid on goal difference as both teams reached the midway point on 40 point. Atlético and Sevilla would qualify for the Europa League; Mallorca, Leganés and Espanyol would go down a division.
This option could employ a solution used in Serie A – play-offs to decide the league title and who is relegated, as long as there is time to play those games…