Football in England, nay across Europe and the world (apart from Belarus), has ground to a halt as countries impose social distancing regulations and, increasingly, lockdowns banning large social gatherings. No one knows what is going to happen post-postponement, there is no clarity in these unprecedented times. However, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin’s thoughts are dystopian in speaking to Italian publication La Reppublica.
Ominously the article by Enrico Currò starts with a lead that is as plain, stark and chilling a message as you would want to hear as a football fan: “Three plans for football, nothing will be the same as before.” That finality rings hollow and true to any football fans reading those words – especially those fans whose teams sit handily placed for promotion as Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion are.
The article goes on to detail these three plans as Plans A, B and C with Ceferin elaborating on this saying: “The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.” He adds that he thinks that it is better to finish those leagues currently on hiatus, either with/without fans watching, before adding a caveat of, “the important thing is to start again by June.”
He continues by adding that there is still uncertainty as to whether there will be a resumption at all but sticks by his assertion that finishing the current campaigns is paramount and that the best way forward involves “the best solution for leagues and clubs.”
Amid all of this, all the uncertainty and the continued spread of the Coronavirus, some say the current seasons should be folded like careless origami and discarded. However, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion fans will rightly complain at such thoughts.
Clubs such as the Whites and the Baggies, indeed those challenging for promotion in Leagues One and Two, have invested heavily in this campaign – investment in terms of money and endeavour. From fans, there’s been the same financial investment and added emotional investment that a voiding of the season would simply be an aberration.
Leeds and West Brom are six points clear of the top playoff team in Fulham and they deserve to see the campaign to its conclusion. Indeed, so do Fulham and the chasing pack in the Championship. As do sides like the chasing pack in League One trying to peg back leaders Coventry City and Rotherham United. As do sides like Cheltenham, Exeter and Plymouth trying to haul in Swindon Town and Crewe Alexandra in League Two.
The football authorities owe it to all clubs to have the leagues snd campaigns play out to their natural conclusion. Anything else? Well, that would be selling clubs, fans and football in general short.
In unprecedented times such as we are in, unprecedented measures need to be taken but not at the detriment to football.