Making The Correct Decision
There are no prizes for guessing the topic of discussion for today’s article. Football has been suspended for the foreseeable future by the SFA and SPFL,and there can be no doubt that it is the correct decision.
There were alternatives available,of course. They could have declared that they saw no reason to alter the fixture calendar or they could have decreed that all matches would have to be played behind closed doors. Neither of these are viable in the current climate. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and we would be puttting spectators and players in unnecessary danger. The problem has been resolved by the current action. Except that it has created another one.
As in,what comes next?
I suggested in a comment on Wednesday or Thursday that football would be suspended until the Easter weekend. The English authorities have decided that the game will return the weekend before that,and I’m pretty certain that it won’t. The Scottish game hasn’t put a timescale on it,and that is probably wise. “How long is a piece of string?” rapidly becomes “When can we get back to some normality?” The simple answer to the latter question is that we do not know; no-one has any idea how serious this outbreak can become unless draconian measures such as those taken in China are adopted. That would be simply unacceptable in most countries as our systems and infrastructure aren’t designed for authoritarian control. People would starve,medicines would run out. Society would simply break down. So it will not happen.
Going back to the question of when we can expect to see the return of football,I suspect that it will only happen when the disease has been brought under control,when the numbers being infected begin to drop. Only then can we even plan for it’s return,and I don’t see it happening any time soon.
So let’s “wargame” this from an entirely unscientific standpoint,and suggest that the game can only resume from the end of May. That will be effectively twelve weeks since the last completed weekend programme,and the decision is made that all tournaments which have commenced must be completed. Step One would have to be that UEFA cancels its planned Euros Finals for next summer and puts it back to either late summer of 2021 or even in summer of 2022. After all,The 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar aren’t scheduled to begin until late December of that year and that allows the authorities some leeway-including postponing them too for a year.
Step Two would be a declaration from UEFA-heavily dependent on the length of this enforced break-about rescheduling fixtures and events for the forthcoming seasons. If indeed it turns out to be twelve weeks,then they must allow all countries until around the weekend of 8 August to complete their domestic calendars with the Champions League and Europa Cup finals the following week. A two or three week break,far too short but necessarily so,to be followed by the commencement of Euro qualifiers and league matches from the first weekend in September. This would have the effect of European campaigns running two months behind schedule and domestic campaigns one month behind schedule. The following summer break would have to be truncated too so that by the start of the 2022/23 season things are back on track and normal service is resumed. And just in time for Euros and The World Cup finals competitions too!
A bit drastic? A bit far-fetched? Well,it’s either that or cancel the remainder of the season entirely when it becomes obvious that the game cannot be resumed in time. The Euros Finals are a dead duck anyway-FIFA has already declared that international matches are suspended until further notice,and the finalists haven’t even been decided yet. There is no option but to postpone them. We can’t declare the season null and void as spectators will rightly feel they are entitled to a refund for matches they have attended,and that money that the game simply cannot afford. Some clubs too will have shelled,out big-time on a push for glory this season,be it titles or promotion,and they will also be in the queue of plaintiffs looking to sue. And I’m not entirely sure that calling the current standings final will be acceptable either-though it may be the best option in a bad bad lot-as we have all seen teams relegated after a late freefall in form or promoted after a late run of winning games.
You would need the wisdom of Solomon to sort this one out. I’m sure we will hear plenty of theories and opinions over the coming days and weeks on how best to deal with this. But at the moment it looks like becoming a problem for the entire European game. As such,it will require an answer for the entire European game. There is a shutdown virtually throughout the continent. As such,it requires a co-ordinated European response,and in my opinion if we can’t get back to normal until the end of May,UEFA should mandate the new fixture calendar for the next two seasons in a similar way to the above.
Interesting times indeed!
Above article by BMCUWP.
Sent from my iPad