If the EPL is not finished – Could this handicap system be the answer?

A possible scenario to this season’s premature termination  by Sean

I won’t make this a long one. In light of the controversy with the decision by the Dutch FA, I thought this might represent a good solution to the dilemma facing domestic leagues around the world. This season’s total points will equate to a points handicap at the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

Basically, I’ve set a handicap ranging from -10 to 10, which would represent the points that each team would start with (although this could easily be -5 to 5, or -20 to 20; a range of 20 just seemed to offer a fair reflection without giving teams too much of an initial battle). Next, I set out a points range from most to least points (61 rounded down to 60) and allotted -1 handicap for every three points (60 points/20 teams) away from Liverpool’s haul of 81. So, while Liverpool gets the full +10 handicap, Man City at 57 points only get a handicap of +2 (rounded to the nearest 0.5).

The results below would reflect my proposed starting handicap for the beginning of next season. It means that successful teams in 2019-20 get a small head start in 2020-21 and vice versa for the bottom teams.

The downside, of course, is that next season’s final standings would not just reflect that season’s performance, but also that of this season. My response would be that special times call for special measures.

Another complaint would be that sides finishing in European qualifying spots this season, and likewise teams in lower leagues in line for promotion, would not be able to qualify. As the main concerns here are financial, my solution would be to take a tenth of expected revenue from that position (say, prize money + expected TV revenue) away from teams competing, and award it to those teams who finished this season in those spots. For example, 10% of Prem prize money and TV revenue would be taken away from 2020-21 prem teams and allocated to Leeds, West Brom and the rest finishing in play-off spots (with Leeds getting the most, West Brom next most and so on). This means that Arsenal would have to give up 10% of their European revenue and divide it among 5th-8th placed teams.

Another issue would be games in hand. Not too sure what a fair resolution would be here. Perhaps mean (average) points from the last five games added to final points total?


League Position Weighting Handicap   2019-20 Points Team 20-21 Handicap
1 81 10 82 Liverpool 10
2 78 9 57 Man City 2
3 75 8 53 Leicester 1
4 72 7 48 Chelsea -1
5 69 6 45 Man Utd -2
6 66 5 43 Wolves -3
7 63 4 43 Sheff Utd -3
8 60 3 41 Spurs -3
9 57 2 40 Arsenal -4
10 54 1 39 Burnley -4
11 51 0 39 Crystal Palace -4
12 48 -1 37 Everton -5
13 45 -2 35 Newcastle -5
14 42 -3 34 Southampton -6
15 39 -4 29 Brighton -7
16 36 -5 27 West Ham -8
17 33 -6 27 Watford -8
18 30 -7 27 Bournemouth -8
19 27 -8 25 Villa -9
20 24 -9 21 Norwich -10
21 -10


And just because I’m a massive geek, I thought I’d make a cheeky graph to visualise just how big a difference there is between Liverpool and the rest (but Admin can’t copy it over)

Interested to hear thoughts from anyone who made it to the end without being utterly confused. Also, happy to answer methodology questions for fellow geeks/statistically curious Gooners.

Sean M


  1. I’m speechless. If you want to kill the interest for the sport – yeah, this maybe is the weapon.
    Why don’t you take a walk in the April sun. Enjoy the warmth of spring. Go home, put a beer in the freezer, set your mobile on alarm 45 minutes later. Take your cold tasty beer, put a record on and read a good book. Have a nice day!

      1. Sean, I know I talk too much. But why let the BEST team start the season with eight points more than any other? Please, tell me if you can find a good reason. Liverpool should start on -25 pts.

        1. Because many would see it as unfair that a team so far ahead could be denied their first title for however many years. This way, fans crying bloody murder over seeing the title taken from them will be somewhat placated by being given a headstart. It would be unprecedented but it just seems to me to be the fairest compromise.

  2. Finish league now.
    Let all placings stand as they are.
    No relegation.
    Promote Leeds and WBA.
    Next season relegate 4 teams and promote 2.
    2021/22 return to 20 teams.

    1. Issues:
      – More games = more fixture congestion. More time added on to the season means less of a gap before rescheduled Euro.
      – Makes playoff positions (for all leagues if you extend the rule universally) useless. Negatively affect clubs who may have been able to gain promotion, and the fourth relegated team who otherwise would have stayed up.
      – Current standings may reflect easier/more difficult games played vs to be played. A team with an easier run at the end of the season would have cause to argue that their final position would’ve been higher. What about games in hand?

      Any solution creates unjustified winners and losers.

    2. Stevo, This is what WILL happen, I confidently predict. But not until after more endless fantasy ideas to complete the season are discussed, which despite silly press speculation even today, will not happen! Points per game average is the only remotely near fair system for deciding the season. Remaining games will be voided and the season decided as positions right NOW stand. I have been saying this for some weeks already, almost alone, sadly.

      I LAUGHED AT, THOUGH CRIED INTERNALLY, AT READING SOME OF THE RIDICULOUS FANTASY IDEAS FOR RESTARTING OUR PREM IN MAY OR JUNE. All the ideas showed how social distancing could be theoretically maintained in the lead up and after the game but NONE were considered for the 90 minutes itself. BONKERS!!!

  3. The geeks may yet find a place in the annuls of Football history.A very interesting piece of work Sean which will of course fall on deaf ears.

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