Ian Harte believes it would be an absolute disaster if Leeds United and West Brom were denied promotion to the Premier League this season, citing the pair as the two best sides in the Sky Bet Championship.
Leeds currently sit top of the Championship table with nine games of the season remaining, whilst narrowly behind them are the Baggies; the pair both hold a handsome lead over Fulham in third, with Premier League football on the horizon.
Of course, a ball hasn’t been kicked in the Championship since the first weekend in March, with Leeds and West Brom patiently waiting for news on the season’s resume.
Over the course of the past week, Football League World exclusively caught up with former Leeds defender Ian Harte, who stated it would be a disaster if either Leeds or West Brom were denied promotion, citing the legal cases that would follow.
“They’ve been by far the two best teams this season,” Harte stated.
“It would be an absolute disaster (if promotion didn’t happen).
“There’s going to be legal cases all over the shop if Leeds didn’t get promoted because they’ve been waiting patiently to try and get back into the Premier League. They’ve been unbelievable this season and if they didn’t achieve that I think they would be suing.”
A number of solutions to the season’s end have been fluttered around the media recently, including reports that the bottom six in the Premier League were looking for relegation to be scrapped if games were moved to neutral venues.
However, in the eyes of Harte, that simply isn’t and option.
“Teams have to get relegated and teams have to get promoted, it filters all the way down,” Harte continued. “Whether it’s Coventry, down to the National League; Barrow, Harrogate, are they going to get promoted to the Football League?
“There’s a big knock-on effect, but that’s why these people are in these jobs, whether it’s Gordon Taylor or the chairman of the EFL, they are going to have to stand up and make those tough decisions, you cannot please everyone, but football needs to know what’s going on.”
Whilst promotion and relegation needs to be decided, it looks increasingly likely that the League One and Two seasons will be finished prematurely, whilst what happens in the Championship and Premier League remains unclear at this stage.
Rewarding sides on sporting merit and promoting or relegating on ‘points per game’ feels a real possibility.
Of course, that would secure Leeds and West Brom a place in the Premier League, but Harte pointed to the problems that would cause in the top-flight: “Probably PPG is the fairest way and that would mean that Leeds and West Brom would go up automatically, but then you would have legal cases in the Premier League.
“Not Norwich, as they are right at the bottom, but Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Brighton, Watford, who have games to play.
“As it stands Watford are out of the relegation zone, but if it goes to PPG they’d go into the bottom-three and it means they get relegated.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone and, honestly, I don’t know what the answer is going to be.”