Is it moral for Football to resume at home venues rather than neutral ones?

The idea of ‘Project Restart’ is to find the safest way possible for Football to resume. It’s long been accepted we are not doing that for the fans (it’s not safe enough for them to attend) but to help clubs lose as little money as possible. After all the Premiership is one of this country’s most successful brands so it serves no one well to see it take a huge financial hit.

Incredibly though, 2 months after a ball was last kicked, we are still at a stage where owners want to convince Boris Johnson to allow them to play at their own stadiums. It was the government who came up with the idea of neutral venues, in fact for the majority of this ‘Lockdown’ they were adamant it was the only way sport could be played, while containing the virus.

I have long shared the belief that those at the bottom of the League are being transparent in their motives. Essentially it is ‘let’s reject every compromise put forward until someone takes away the threat of relegation’. They can’t be seen to not be co-operative though so suggest the most difficult scenarios and at least legally you make it look like you were trying.

The problem is for the likes of Brighton and Watford (The two who have publicly gone against the loss of ‘home advantage’ is they may be about to have their bluff called.

A week ago, the idea that squads would be allowed to travel up and down the motorway seemed far-fetched, yet anyone who listened to the Prime Minister’s Action Plan on Sunday no longer knows what the UK’s priority is.

It’s like the movie, ‘The Terminal’. They can’t lawfully tell Tom Hanks he can leave the airport but off record they are not going to chase him if he does.

Downing Street have to tell us it’s dangerous to go on public transport and meet up with people but here is a bus and a park, go do what you want …..as long as you don’t sue us when there’s a second spike.

In other words, is there a way for the country to open up coffee shops and pubs, etc, even when we have the biggest death rate in Europe at the moment during this pandemic?

So, football has met its match in terms of greed. If their plan was for authorities to void the campaign (and ban relegation), then they underestimated those in powers desire to prioritise the economy over people’s welfare – and boy is football a massive cash cow.

They were insistent it was too dangerous to use multiple venues. 5 or 6 were going to be picked so they could contain the virus spreading.

It’s estimated a top-level match takes up to 300 individuals. In theory you could have 4 games in one day from the same place meaning you wouldn’t need 10 separate security, officials, police staff and most crucially the manpower of medical and hospital staff. What facts or figures have you read as to why suddenly that’s okay?

As things stand, we are meant to avoid any public travel, yet some men and women will have to drive from Newcastle to Southampton?

You still can’t go into a loved one’s house; you can only see one member of your family outside (2 metres apart) but it’s okay to open 20 hotels for squads to stay in?

The same police chief who told clubs to get a grip now does a U turn the moment money is at stake.
Apparently, he’s now been reassured that fans can be trusted and won’t hover outside stadiums (leading to the need of more police and medical groups). Sorry, but if Liverpool win a title or Villa stay up, where’s the evidence that any person can be trusted to ‘be alert‘?

Did he not see pictures of parks in London last weekend? People no longer even follow the arrows in shops anymore. Last Thursday my street wanted to have a street party to raise spirits of the community. They started with deck chairs outside talking to neighbours across the road. By Sunday, outside my window were groups of people drinking, mum’s chatting with push chairs, zero self-distancing. So, do you really think intelligent people believe that football fans will respect the rules, when we can’t yet get individuals not to hang out at the park in groups of 10?

The truth? If thousands of fans partied on the streets of Liverpool, but everyone gets their money, they wouldn’t care. You see, there’s a saying I like, ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’. It just feels like we are willing to take lots of gambles for what? Home advantage?

Surely with zero fans in attendance you lost what gives you a home advantage? Why does it matter where you play if there are zero fans? Because you’re more familiar with the dressing room? Is that really why we need to double the amount of police and medical staff? ‘Sorry you can’t be seen for hours because the NHS is stretched. Football could have helped by compromising, but it’s important Brighton have the advantage of taking a corner from where they are used to’. That’s quite sick when you think about it.

I was going to wait until League One and Two make it official, but when I keep hearing ‘integrity of the game’, who’s looking after them? By the Premiership clubs being divas and demanding they play at their own ground they make it even more unlikely lower League football can be played. Where’s the integrity in that?

Why don’t the Premiership use 3 venues which could host 10 games in one day, using as little resources as possible? Resources that could then be used for the likes of Brentford and Coventry. If Arsenal have to play at the Emirates, Man United at Old Trafford, City at the Etihad, etc, that’s 10 stadiums every three days who will need a guaranteed number of ambulances for example. The NHS is over-stretched to do that. They certainly couldn’t cater for the Championship, League One and League two as well, like it’s a standard weekend.

How come not one person has said that for the ‘integrity of the game’ let’s compromise for those less fortunate. Oh, I forgot …… Watford need the advantage of being at an empty Vicarage Road. If they played at Villa Park, they might not know what that green stuff is?

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze? I guess it is when money is at stake…

Dan Smith

30 Comments

  1. towny254 says:

    Dan Well written 100% true

  2. ThirdManJW says:

    Well the tubes are running, and that is the most likeliest place you’ll catch Corona.

    I don’t know why there is so much debate over football returning? There will be a huge amount of testing, there’s strict social distancing, and isolation rules in place. No fans either.

    I also don’t know why the players are complaining as well? Bar working from home, they will be in one the safest industries. Although there is physical contact, there will be all this testing in place, and best medical help going should anything happen. How many other employees across any industry get that kind of protection? Yet we’re all having to go back to work.

    I think neutral venues would be better for the rest of this season. Less travelling, less pressure on the police, and easier for the TV crews as well.

    Even if Arsenal do end up playing at the Emirates with no fans, I don’t think we’ll notice any difference to the atmosphere!

  3. jon fox says:

    This article misses the main points, which are that neutral venues or home grounds are BOTH wrong. Football should NOT be considered while hundreds are dying daily. A secondary (and academic) point is that in no other workplace where people work or travel in close confinement, do people routinely grapple , lunge at , or get in close bodily contact. Nor do they expel breath in force directly at workmates or fellow travellers. Nor do they spit!

    But my FIRST point, rather than the second, is of PARAMOUNT importance. The second is academic, as I FIRMLY believe NO football will be played this summer. NOR SHOULD IT AND NOR MUST IT BE, unless you care nothing for others lives. I do!

    1. ThirdManJW says:

      Brilliant point, and to add to it, there must be NO football during any cold months as well because of another contagious killer virus known as influenza. How many will have to die this coming winter, just so we can watch football? We will also have to come with a new type of social distancing given that influenza is airbourne.

      Corona is getting all the air time, but we shouldn’t forget about influenza, and many other contagious diseases as well that will kill thousands.

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        Maybe just condense football into the warm months?

        1. Dan kit says:

          So your saying we should cancel football altogether because of every disease and virus known to man ?
          Maybe you should stop reading conspiracy story’s online and get with the real world .
          Let me guess 5G towers are what started all this ?

          1. ThirdManJW says:

            @Dan kit

            I was being sarcastic. I am just pointing out the hypocrisy of the no football argument to save lives. Apparently it’s only sufferers of Corona we need to concern ourselves with, and no other contagious diseases that kills on mass.

            Of course we should do all we can to minimize deaths and suffering, but we must draw a line somewhere. Can’t keep the world on lock down, otherwise we’re looking at mass job losses (which we’re already at), then mass homelessness, and then mass deaths as a result.

          2. Admin Martin says:

            You make massive sense ThirdManJW, one of the few on here that is being real. Keep up the good work

      2. jon fox says:

        TMJW, As you are well aware your silly comment added nothing of value whatever to my point, which you sarcastically call “brilliant”. The day that someone with your life views TRULY supports my humane values will astonish me!

        1. ThirdManJW says:

          I know we’ve had a strong disagreement on this of late jon fox, and it has got a little out of hand, but in all seriousness, what is the bottom line for you? No football until a vaccine (that may not even work)? If so, you’re looking at over a year at the earliest. Clubs will literally be extinct by that point. Or is it just until there’s no new cases and deaths?

          I am not trying to bait you, just wondering what is your thinking?

          Even though you seem to hate my influenza argument, you can surely see why I am using it though. Thousands will die through the chain of infection, just so people can visit family members, go to the cinema, eat out, travel on a plane, bus, the tube, and go to a football match. This isn’t me trying to be difficult, and annoy you, those are hard facts of what happens in countries all over the world during the cold months…despite a vaccine!

          I am not trying to belittle the dangers of Corona. Maybe it is a little more contagious. Maybe it is a little more dangerous. But so influenza, and despite the thousands that die, we carry on. What I hope will come from this Corona situation, is that people will be a lot more careful when the flu season arrives, and thousands will be saved.

          1. jon fox says:

            TMJW, Well you have courteously offered me the chance to explain further and I am grateful. I too have said things to you in frustration That frustration is caused entirely and ONLY by your, to my mind, rather crass inability to distinguish between one disease for which there is no known cure and no drugs to alleviate symptons AND on the other hand, a disease that, yes does kill, but is not remotely as contagious AND which has a vaccine .

            Those are two entirely different matters and why you can not see that is to my mind incredible. Hence our cross words.
            As an older and hence vulnerable person I have a flu jab each OCTOBER and so does my wife. We are not in any danger of catching flu therefore but we ARE about Covid. Or would be,if we were careless and cavalier with our lifestyles , which we are NOT.
            In an ideal world all decent folk would banish ALL disease if we could , but we are human and don’t have magic wands, so we rely on medical science to advise us, which is sensible and pragmatic. Almost all wise folk do the same.

            I also realise that not all in the world are lucky enough to be able to have a flu jab and that is a disgrace and unfair. No one,at least of the regulars on here, cares more about poor, unfortunate and disadvantaged folk the world over than I do. I loathe and detest unfairness, greed while others starve and many of the inequalities and I have and do FIGHT them wherever I see them.

            Believe me, I have campaigned at street level and lobbied in Parliament against MANY , MANY injustices in many life areas and have known many dozens of MP’s personally across all mainstream parties, most of whom I have admired but pitied for being caught up in a system that aids unfairness but whose principles and hearts are almost always, noble, This applies to most in ALL mainstream parties.
            I do not routinely bash politicians because I KNOW HOW ROTTEN and UNFAIR the PARLIAMENTARY set up and system is. It is the system that is broken NOT the MP’s, in the main, but of course there are exceptions and those who are out for themselves. It is not easy to fix that system though most MPS would love it to be done., if only they could!

            We cannot avoid all risk of course not, BUT we CAN avoid unnecessary and deadly risk, which is my whole argument. I welcome your proper explanation for what I maintain is your indefensible position. And I genuinely wish you good health and safety.

          2. ThirdManJW says:

            Thank you for your response jon fox. Very detailed and personal, but I must point out one major thing wrong though. Having the flu vaccine doesn’t mean you cannot still get the flu.

            In fact, the last time I had the vaccine I still got the flu, despite being young, fit and healthy. Hence, I’ll never knowingly allow myself to be infected with a vaccine again. Also, I have worked in aged care for years, and I have sadly seen many die from the flu despite getting the shot.

            That’s not me saying one should or shouldn’t take a vaccine, that’s just my personal experience.

            And I have big respect for people like you who actually get there and try and make a difference with the politicians.

        2. Dan kit says:

          Admart@
          How does Thirdman make sense regarding this Virus?
          I don’t get how you can agree with his way of thinking ,I’m not being funny but I would love to know your view on what he as posted .

          1. Admin Martin says:

            Not his opinion on the Flu but everything else about football returning

    2. Dan says:

      Hey Jon
      Don’t misunderstand
      My preference is zero football
      Only coming back for greed
      If we are advising players to try and turn backs when getting up from a tackle then how in the next sentence can we say it’s safe ?

      1. jon fox says:

        DAN well I DID misunderstand, simply because I took your words at face value. English IS our mutual first language and I often make allowances for those on here whose first language is NOT English. But you specifically wrote of “why don’t we use three neutral venues etc” and that is not the argument of someone in my firm position against any restart at all, anywhere, until deaths and new infections are right down.

        HOW COULD I KNOW YOU AGREE WITH ME THEN? GLAD TO SEE YOU DO THOUGH!
        I will say you write very well put together articles whether or not one agrees with the point being said, which I often do but sometimes do not. As is natural for all!

  4. Darthballz says:

    I like the idea of neutral venues and 4 games a day as the teams that have played can watch to give some atmosphere. Like a mini competition .

    1. jon fox says:

      Sure, the more the merrier and we can all die together while singing “When the Saints go marching in”! DUH!!!

      1. Darthballz says:

        You just have hate and anger running through you . I feel sorry for you .

  5. Shakir says:

    There is still a home advantage even without fans,may not be a huge one but is still big enough to make difference in a game.Thats the psycological side of home grounds.

    But you have a fair point on saying that clubs should compromise now cuz of the situation.

    Its really hard to take a side these days…

    1. Darthballz says:

      Well said it is difficult to take a side .

  6. Innit says:

    Football isn’t on my mind. The government shouldn’t have eased restrictions this early. I fear a second wave will come soon because of this

    Its too early to talk about football. Let’s see how lockdown works out first.

  7. RSH says:

    The reality is that the season is going to finish. Time to accept this fact and the leagues job now is the to find the best way forward. Depending on what scientist you ask, COVID will be around for several years until we find a vaccine. It’s just not realistic to expect that everyone is going to be fine staying in their houses for years, living off money allocated by the government. Football is obviously not a priority, but it is simply reality that it’s coming back, and season will finish, and we will have to wait and see where we are in the winter. Things are improving in most areas of the world right now, even in NYC which was the epicenter for a while. If this can be done with minimal case increases then that would be a success.

  8. Abbas says:

    There’s positives and negatives to everything. @Jon Fox surely you can see that keeping all non essential activities on indefinite hold has some major negatives to it also. Nobody is suggesting doing anything that has a high possiblity of causing serious harm to anyone. We live in an highly advanced society. We should be able to organise a few matches for healthy adults that are all covid negative. It would brighten up the lives of millions.

    Your first point that football is inappropriate while hundreds are dying daily is solid. It’s hard to argue against without seeming heartless. But we have to accept that this is life & life must go on. We all feel terrible for those who are stuck down by this virus. At the same time I feel the time is right to work out how to safely restart the lives and freedoms we all surely miss.

    Your second point about the players being in close bodily contact fails to take into account the necessity for thorough testing. If Arteta passed a covid test I’d happily invite him into my home and have a kick about in the back garden with him after dinner, wouldn’t you?

    1. jon fox says:

      Abbas, If you will forgive me sounding patronising, which I assure you I am not being, you are clearly an inteligent and thinking man and I love to debate with folk like you.

      I must take great issue with your assertion that “nobody is suggesting…..etc though. You will be only too aware that testing,as currently done, is far from foolproof and unless you test and obtain the negative result, THE MOMENT a player enters the field, it does not prove that the player is negative at that key moment. Witness the testing Germany that has failed to achieve this currently,impossible aim. Their players were tested well prior to the game for practical necessity, and some found positive.

      You make a number of good points about what we ought to be able to do, BUT WHICH WE CANNOT YET DO, RELIABLY.

      BROADLY, IT COMES DOWN TO WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE BALANCE BETWEEN RISK WITH PLEASURE INVOLVED BUT DANGER TO LIVES.

      I reject your Arteta kick around scenario, simply because you are not comparing like with like, a common mistake made in here. Arteta in your garden would not be spitting, forcefully expelling air in your face, nor grappling you closely etc. That scenario was,IMO ,unworthy of a man of your clear intellect and I maintain my opinion, unchanged.

  9. Goonster says:

    Some of us have been going to work all throughout this coronavirus episode.
    As of today and yesterday normal people have been going back to work. It is 8:08am right now and on my way to work, lots of people making their way to work.
    These pampered players should stop acting like princesses all the time and start living in the real world where things are never 100% tailored to your personal specification.

    1. Admin Martin says:

      Brilliant comment

  10. Reggie says:

    I just hope that everyone involved doesn’t get it and pass it on to even one relative that dies because if that happens, the experiment has failed. As long as no one get the virus while being involved there isn’t a problem. The first time a player or representative gets the virus, it needs to be shelved as a poor decision. Please remember this isnt FLU, it is far worse and kills about 97% more people and is far more contagious. My wife works in the frontline and has never seen a worse disease in full flow. As long as everyone is safe and no footballer or family is safe, then no problem. The problem is, football goes against all the social distancing rules that have been set out and i see no reason to risk lives for sport. Especially when it is a contact sport and cant social distance. Football doesn’t get my support in this.

  11. towny254 says:

    If we even restart what happens when a corner is taken how can they stand 2 meters apart it is a JOKE

    1. jon fox says:

      towny 254, Though I of course realise you were using dramatic effect, it is never “a joke” but actually a tragedy unfolding when people deliberately stand closely together, whilst grappling ech other as at corners, free kicks etc. But your thrust is of course correct and I applaud your sentiments.

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