Manchester United's chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League could be decided by a game in which they are not even involved, according to plans discussed by Premier League executives.
An article published in The Times claims that options for closing the Premier League season are being discussed until July 16, the deadline for broadcast contract fulfillment.
And as expectations grow that the season can only be resumed safely behind closed doors in June, the shortening of the Premier League season from 38 to 29 games is being discussed.
In this scenario, since most teams, including United, have already played 29 games, there are only two games left to play: Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United and Manchester City vs. Arsenal – which were previously postponed due to the Carabao Cup final.
And it is the Aston Villa vs Sheffield United game that is very important to the Red Devils.
United is currently fifth in the league. If Manchester City's UEFA ban is upheld, it means they'll qualify for next season's Champions League.
If Sheffield United won the game at Villa Park, it would bring the blades to 46 points, one ahead of the Red Devils, and they would secure last place in the top division.
If the game were a tie or Villa won, United would qualify.
In this scenario, United's goalkeeper Dean Henderson could play a big role in the club's future. If Henderson helped win the Blades, he would once again sentence his home team to Europa League football next season.
A win for Villa would let her escape relegation and Watford would go under along with Bournemouth and Norwich, with West Ham escaping due to the goal difference.
The plan also provides for José Mourinhos Spurs to miss European football completely next season as they are currently in eighth place. However, Arsenal could still qualify for the Europa League as beating the 29th game against Manchester City would result in them climbing over the Wolves and possibly against Sheffield United due to the goal difference, depending on the outcome of that game at Aston Villa .
The option may be a last resort as most clubs believe that this would be fairer than voiding the season as a whole. Other plans under discussion include waiving squad size restrictions (currently 25 plus unlimited youth players) so that teams can play up to three games per week over a six-week period.
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