These are trying times for supporters of Arsenal and every other professional football club, but it’s not just the domestic football that is disrupted as UEFA have also postponed internationals, including the 2020 UEFA Finals being put off for a year, with many England fans already in possession of tickets to watch their country aiming to win it.
In the light of recent events, the England manager Gareth Southgate has taken the time to write a long and sympathetic letter to all England fans and football fans generally. In it he talks about how we have more important things than football to think about right now, and he praises the workers that are being the new heroes by keeping the country going at this difficult time.
The England boss also urges the rest of us to face the uncertain challenges ahead and to keep in mind the health guidelines, and take every precaution to keep our families safe to the best of our abilities.
Here is Gareth Southgate’s open letter reproduced in full….
Dear England fans,
As we would have been gathering our squad for March fixtures this weekend, it felt an appropriate moment to write a message to all of our supporters.
For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present – and the coming months – is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we’ve faced collectively in decades.
On behalf of all the team and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period.
In the way you’ve all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.
That responsibility lies with us all.
We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It’s not normal for any of us and it’s going to challenge us all.
Look out for each other. Please don’t suffer alone, and remember that our great country has come through these enormous challenges before – and, together, we will do so again.
We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer, but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre-stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families. They won’t receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.
When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.
To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition.
I feel sure that, when that moment comes, I will never have been prouder to be the leader.
Again on behalf of us all, I wish you and your families strength and love to thrive through the challenges ahead.