Now, isn’t this a strange situation to find ourselves in. Of course, the seriousness isn’t lost on us at all. The most important thing for us all as this coronavirus loses the run of itself is to stay safe. But, for the first time since the Second World War Two, football is now off the menu for the foreseeable. Of course, you could still catch the odd Conference game at the weekend – but expect that to now be knocked on the head too after the flak the authorities have copped for carrying on.
The date currently in the diary for us to all supposedly pick up where we left off is Thursday 30 April. That is, of course, heavily caveated with the phrase “at the earliest“. It remains to be seen whether the Covid-19 coronavirus is working to the same dates. But we suspect that it is not. So, what then happens to the rest of the 2019-20 campaign? And what else is on the mind of Phil and other chairmen trying to steer the less wealthy clubs through this and out the other side? In the absence of anything better to do with our time right now, we put our thinking caps on.
Get back on board and see it through
10 points to claw back on Morecambe and Macclesfield Town and 10 games in which to do it. So, who cares if those games are played in the searing mid-August heat? As long as we get that chance to at least give it a shot – yeah? The chances of us getting back out on the pitch before the summer are slim as things stand. The Euro 2020 can might have to be kicked down the road into next year. And Prem clubs might struggle to fit their Asian pre-season tournaments in. But it means we’d get the full 46 chalked off for better or worse.
End the campaign as we see it now
One option is to call it quits now and take the current positions as final. That’d obviously mean we’ve played our last game in the Football League (for now). While relegation is a highly likely outcome for us anyway, this wouldn’t just affect us. Too many teams are sat on one side or the other of promotion, playoff or relegation lines. All that separates them are a few goals or a point or two. Some of those sides even have games in hand, which could change everything if it all plays out. The lawyers could have a field day.
Bin it off and start afresh ‘next’ term
It won’t go down well in Liverpool, Leeds or – um – Barrow, but writing off this campaign as null and void could be the solution. If this goes on for a few months and/or the idea of cramming in the remaining games between now and early August is a no-go, the restart button is there to be hit. It’s tough on those who didn’t make an absolute cock-up of their season. And it’s lucky on those who did. It’s a solution that’ll win more friends than not…
… and what else do we need to think about?
Money: Too tight to mention?
This coronavirus is going to make for squeaky bum-time at any club that doesn’t have the luxury of being in the Premier League. Or heavily bankrolled by a chairman with deep pockets. Phil has already said it himself: “we have no idea how the club can survive for long while paying players and staff with no income”. And we’re one of the well-run ones! You’d like to think that the bigger boys will surely part with some of their vast wealth to keep us smaller folk going in tough times.
After all, we’ve put up their U23s in the Leasing.com Trophy.
Mind you, the Premier League ain’t exactly known for its altruism. And then there’s the FA – which might as well stand for fu..
Now for the paradox. For the next two-and-a-half weeks, players are going to expect their wages to be paid as per their contracts. Well, maybe not Macclesfield Town players. After all, they have families to support and roofs to keep over their head. But they’re not exactly able to earn them. And let’s say the football season can’t restart until late June – at which point contracts have come to an end. Players have no club and clubs have fewer players.
It’s not as if free agents can confidently expect cash-starved clubs to pile in with offers of a fresh start elsewhere once coronavirus does one. So, do players stay at their current clubs in some form of special situation? Or will we have teams fielding a weird mix of contracted and yoof lads – with a huge pool of talent floating around and watching on until teams can put reasonable offers on the table?
It’s a puzzler for players, agents and chairmen alike. No doubt the Professional Footballers’ Association are preparing to have a busy time of it to come.
Are we going to have one? Will this period of isolation and social distancing constitute the rest that players normally get over the summer. Sure, there isn’t the usual boys away day to Marbella or Ayia Napa. But it is rest and recuperation time. On the other hand, can you really expect the lads to come back for the rest of this season and then roll straight into a fresh season? It’s a big ask that. Or maybe not – that’s your call. The lack of a pre-season also means no second-strings touring the various local non-league neighbours either.
And that’d be a shame.
Coronavirus and the current season: What did we learn?
Well, we’ve told you nothing you didn’t already know. Nor have we answered anything that others have so far been unable to answer. But we did eat into some of this next 12 weeks. And perhaps that’s the most valuable service we could ever hope to provide…