Self isolation, social distancing and ultimately lock-down are required aspects of modern life if the world as a whole is going to pass through COVID-19 with as many people as possible alive. A secondary killer from this situation could be mental health, if we cannot socialise or take part in activities we take for granted what are we to do?
The coronavirus is a health war and in world wars gone, entertainment was an important morale lifting exercise undertaken. Troops was entertained by legends like Dame Vera Lynn or Bob Hope and at home the masses enjoyed radio shows from Tommy Handley. The recent edition of Ant & Decs Saturday Night Takeaway without a audience was eerie but all that watched it appreciated the effort from the team to produce the show and enjoyed watching it.
Once the football world can safely become active they need to, not everyone is a footy fan but it’s our national sport and if games can be played behind closed doors, televised, it will make so many feel like the world is slightly normal again rather than chasing toilet rolls!
Logistics will be tough but with the authorities halting the season until at least the 30th April there is time to create a plan which can be worked. Our everyday “normal” life is going to be affected for months so it’s not just a matter of football going back to there old time slots, games could be played everyday and at any daylight time.
Clubs are undergoing their own self isolation due to infections and to enable the other factors needed to hold games like refs and tv crews there is time to implement lock-down so their health is at a maximum. It will take a lot of dedication and goodwill by so many in the game to make this happen but the positive effects for so many cannot be underestimated. Yes they may have to live away from family for a while but it’s not much different than when the elite internationals go away for the World Cup, times like that they are away from their families for a month!
Home advantage counts for nothing when played behind closed doors and to take the strain off the medical world shared neutral venues could be used. St George’s Park has 14 pitches and the onsite hotel has 228 rooms for instance and could be used to host many of the games for all professional divisions. It would defiantly give a Sunday morning football vibe with games going on over many pitches. You can’t even discount using venues like the O2 or Manchester Arena if needs be.
If they wanted to give it a mini tournament feel to rush through the fixtures then surely they can play shorter games (20 minutes each way) which could mean teams playing twice in a day. No festivals are occurring this summer so why not a FOOTBALL FESTIVAL?
Lower league clubs rely on ticket sales and if the games are played behind closed doors I know as a fan I’d rather the club keep the money, in exchange I receive priority TV access to the ticketed games I purchased. Sky and BT Sport have shown their true greedy self’s lately threatening action over the loss of coverage but you would hope some deal can be made that many games can be shown for free to air. The TV contracts only relate to certain game slots. I know as it stands right now I would love to watch Macclesfield v Bradford City, anything please.
The season will finish it’s been stated by the authorities and if football can figure out a way to do so safely and soon then the nations perception of professional football may just change from the millionaire’s that do not care, to role models to a nation.