What About Next Season? By Dan Smith
So, we now know football will be returning in June, with Arsenal’s visit to Man City as one of the opening games.
If it should? The reasons why? These are all debatable. Yet the danger is that with the League resuming, everyone is left to think we are safe from this virus. That attitude is not exclusive to sport.
Since Boris Johnson has relaxed the government’s social distancing rules, you only have to go to your local beach to realise people are not taking this Pandemic as serious as they were a month ago.
The government have been willing to contradict their own rules to ensure the season resumes. Not for fans, not for our escapism, but for money. The Premiership is one of the UK most lucrative brands and it serves no one well for clubs to go bust.
Yet finishing the campaign might be the equivalent of sticking a bandage over the wound, you slow down the bleeding but you’re not stopping it.
Talks are already underway for the 2020-2021 season to start in September, but surely it can’t with the following short cuts. Testing twice a week, keeping players locked up in hotels, possibly neutral venues, etc, is manageable for 6 weeks but not realistic for 8 months.
TV companies are already demanding money back because the product has been altered. Will they take exceptions to football looking this way in the long term?
At some point authorities can’t just consider the wealthy, but also how this might impact the less fortunate. The EFL can’t afford the testing without match day revenue. The idea of League one and Two clubs becoming extinct would harm the image of the game and push supporters away.
We know why owners refused to void anything, they didn’t want to owe money to networks and sponsors. The Premiership didn’t have a choice. However they ended things they simply couldn’t keep everyone happy. They would have faced lawsuits, especially with 4 clubs having played a game less than the rest.
Imagine Aston Villa’s lawyers for example if they had been relegated when they had a game in hand over their rivals? Clearly there is so much to lose that all parties were never going to consider it a possibility that this season doesn’t finish.
Contradicting your own guidelines, using up police time, taking away resources from the NHS, tests twice a week when not all on the front line has access – there is nothing they wouldn’t do for greed.
I like to think greed won’t be as paramount come September. Say if there was a second spike you could delay any start. It would be foolish to start anything you couldn’t finish, and again have to worry about legal action based on relegation, qualifying for Europe, clubs playing an even amount of games, etc.
Surely you can get a Sky or BT to agree to wait?
Of course, there’s every chance deaths are ignored, loved one can’t see each other, families can’t fully attend funerals and social distancing rules are ignored, etc, all for the sake of football making as much money as possible.