Coronavirus and sports leagues: obtaining a fair ranking when the season cannot resume. By: Csató, László. IMA Journal of Management Mathematics. Oct2021, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p547-560. 14p.

Many sports leagues are played in a tightly scheduled round-robin format, leaving a limited time window to postpone matches. If the season cannot resume due to an external shock such as the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the ranking of the teams becomes non-trivial: it is necessary to account for schedule imbalances and possibly for the different number of matches played. First in the literature, we identify a set of desired axioms for ranking in these incomplete tournaments. It is verified that the generalized row sum, a parametric family of scoring rules, satisfies all of them. In particular, the well-established least-squares method maximizes the influence of the strength of opponents on the ranking. Our approach is applied for six major premier European soccer competitions, where the rankings are found to be robust concerning the weight of adjustment for the strength of the opponents. Some methodologically simpler alternative policies are also discussed.