The Premier League has admitted for the first time that the season may not be completed due to the coronavirus crisis. If that is the case, clubs will have to get creative to find a way to produce a final table to decide European places and relegation.
A vote of 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs would be needed to decide how to finish the season, with null and void now completely off the table. The clubs will next meet on May 18, though at that stage it is likely they will still be committed to attempting to finish the season and any vote on how the season could end would come later.
Here, we take a look through a series of models that have been proposed for the Premier League, or used in other competitions, to try to settle matters -- including two different points-per-game formats.
In all models: Liverpool will be crowned Premier League champions for the first time. Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United go to the Champions League.
*If Manchester City win their appeal against a two-year European ban, they would replace United in the Champions League (who drop to the Europa League group stage).
Model A: The table as it stands
What is this? It's as simple as it sounds. The latest Premier League table is used and positions are final.
What would it mean? Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United to the Europa League group stage, and Tottenham Hotspur to the second qualifying round. If City win their appeal, Sheffield United drop into qualifying and Spurs miss out. Relegation is unchanged, with AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City down.
Who else has used this? The Dutch Eredivisie has taken the final table, though a simple points-per-game model would not have altered any positions. The Belgian FA is expected to follow suit on Friday, because all teams in its top division have played the same number of games and thus points-per-game isn't relevant.
Pros: It's straightforward for all supporters to understand and requires no mathematical equation.
Cons: It doesn't take into account teams that have played fewer games, such as Arsenal and Aston Villa, and factors such as home form and fixture difficulty.
Model B: Simple points per game (PPG)
What is this? It works out how many points each teams has earned, on average, in each game across the season so far.
What would it mean? There would be only two changes to the table. Sheffield United would jump above Wolves, which would guarantee the Blades a place in the Europa League group stage no matter what happens with Man City's European appeal. Arsenal would swap places with Spurs, giving the Gunners a possible place in Europa League qualifying. Relegation would be unchanged.
How is it calculated? You divide points by the number of games played. So Aston Villa have 25 points from 28 games: 25÷28 = 0.89
Who else has used this? The LFP used points per game to settle Ligue 1. This method saw Nice jump above Stade de Reims into fifth on head-to-head after their PPG was identical, while Strasbourg finished 10th by swapping places with Angers.
Pros: It takes into account when teams have played fewer games to give a fairer reflection of comparative performance across the season.
Cons: It does not factor in relative home and away form, as the PPG average is across all games played. This can adversely affect teams that are strong at home. It also does not look at the difficulty of matches still to be played.
Model C: Weighted points per game (WPPG)
What is this? Much like points per game, except this format takes into account each team's home and away form to provide an average for each, which is multiplied across a 38-game season.
What would it mean? Compared to simple PPG, Tottenham would swap places with Arsenal for that possible place in Europa League qualifying. The only other change of note would come in relegation, which would see West Ham United drop two places from 16th to 18th and into the bottom three, with Bournemouth saved.
That means bringing PPG vs. WPPG into a vote among Premier League clubs would essentially create an election between Bournemouth and West Ham to stay in the Premier League.
How is it calculated? You divide points by the number of games played for home and away form separately. Multiply each number by 19 and add them together to create a total points tally. So Aston Villa's home form is 1.307×19=24.86. Their away form is 0.533×19=10.13. That gives them a WPPG tally for the season of 34.979.
Who else has used this? It was suggested last week that League One and League Two in England will use this method. This came after it was used to decide the final tables in rugby union's English Clubs Championship (mens levels 3-12).
Pros: It takes into account home and away form, rather than a more generalised average for each club's form. And after so many clubs argued the importance of home advantage, a vote for weighted PPG would seem logical.
Cons: It does not factor in the strength of teams still to play. Some have played most of the big six at home (giving them a lower average), whereas others have tough run-ins ahead. For example, Norwich have the lowest home PPG but still have to play Southampton, Everton, Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham and Burnley -- all clubs in the bottom half of the table. Brighton, meanwhile, have one of the best home PPGs in the bottom six but must still host Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle. Brighton's home PPG is lower than Aston Villa's, who have six home games remaining.
Model D: Roll back to Gameweek 27
What is this? This is the last time all teams had played the same number of games, before Aston Villa and Manchester City were in the Carabao Cup final.
What would it mean? Compared to simple PPG, the top five would stay the same but only three other positions would be unchanged. Tottenham would climb three spots to take a direct route to the Europa League group stage, while Wolves would have to wait on the results of Man City's appeal for a place in Europe. In the bottom three, West Ham and Watford, who beat Liverpool 3-0 after Feb. 24, would be relegated with Aston Villa and Bournemouth reprieved.
Eight teams would drop places under this method: Sheffield United, Wolves, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Southampton. Newcastle United, West Ham and Watford; it would only need a vote of seven to stop this rollback.
How is it calculated? All games played after Feb. 24 are discounted.
Who else has used this? It was a solution being considered, and rejected, in France.
Pros: It is argued this is fairer as some teams have had the chance to improve, or reduce, their PPG average by playing games when others have not.
Cons: It takes away some of the sporting merit of the season and is unlikely to get support from the teams who are adversely affected by moving places, and thus losing prize money.
Model E: Roll back to 19 games
What is this? This is the league table after each team had played each other once.
What would it mean? Compared to simple PPG there would be limited change to the top of the table, with Tottenham and Wolves in the final Europa League places, but some teams would suffer marked drops that would affect Premier League prize money -- each place is worth an extra £2.5 million. Arsenal would drop five places, below Brighton, into 13th while Watford would slip into the relegation zone. Newcastle would go up four places into ninth.
Seven teams would drop places under this method: Manchester City, Wolves, Arsenal, Burnley, Everton, Southampton and Watford; so there is a block of votes to prevent it.
How is it calculated? Only the first time each club has played each other is counted.
Who else has used this? It was another solution that received some traction, but was again rejected, in France.
Pros: As each team has played each other once, it removes any argument about which teams may have an easier, or more difficult, set of games remaining.
Cons: It can change a table considerably, and a huge chunk of sporting merit is removed -- such as Watford's remarkable turnaround under Nigel Pearson. It also doesn't factor in which teams have had easier home fixtures in the first round of matches.