Soccer

Man City's Ilkay Gundogan says Liverpool deserves title if Premier League season is canceled

REUTERS, AFP-JIJI

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says it would only be "fair" for rival Liverpool to be awarded the English Premier League trophy if the season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF that Liverpool deserved to be crowned champion given its massive 25-point lead over second-place City, the reigning champions, which has left it just two wins away from the title.

"For me, that would be okay, yes," Gundogan said when asked whether Liverpool should be handed its first top-flight title in 30 years should the season not be completed.

"You have to be fair as a sportsperson," he added, while conceding that it was a difficult decision for soccer authorities given the impact the cancellation of the season would have at both ends of the table.

"There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn't be nice if it was canceled now," he said.

"On the other hand, for clubs who aren't doing as well and are maybe in the relegation places, an abandonment would obviously suit them."

The Premier League season has been suspended until April 30, but it is looking increasingly likely that the date may have to be pushed back further.

Tottenham striker and England captain Harry Kane already knows where he stands on the issue, saying he doesn't want the current campaign to stretch past June or into the start of what would be the 2020-21 season in August, as has been suggested by some.

"I know the Premier League will do everything they can to finish the season, and that they are looking at every option possible," Kane said in an Instagram Live conversation with former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp.

"I think, for me, we do need to try to finish the season. But there needs to be a point where enough is enough.

"Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that. But obviously, I don't know too much about behind the scenes and financially."

Kane would like to see some sort of resolution in the summer.

"Probably the limit for me is the end of June," he said. "If the season's not completed by the end of June, we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season."

He also doesn't think dragging out the campaign will help anyone.

"The further this season is pushed on, it would have such a big knock-on effect for next season, with the Euros in 2021, and even World Cup 2022. But that's just my opinion," he said.

"Football is secondary at the moment. I know there still have to be plans in place, and I'm sure everyone is trying to do that."

As long as the hiatus continues, however, German international Gundogan said he would be open to taking a pay cut should English clubs follow the likes of Juventus and Borussia Dortmund in asking their players to accept reduced wages so non-playing staff can be paid.

"Of course I think it's OK, that goes without saying, (but) there's been no discussion in England yet," he said. "Perhaps that's because the English clubs are a bit financially stronger than the clubs in Germany at the moment.

"I don't know who has the final say in that decision. On the other hand, if a player says, 'no, I don't want that, I worked hard for it, I get my salary,' then it can go in the opposite direction.

"For me personally, it would be okay but, to be honest, you have to be tolerant and if there are players who are against that, then that's also an acceptable situation."

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