OLIVER HOLT: Are we so desperate that football is rushing that we are happy to risk causing damage?

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If LS Lowry painted “Go to Match” outside one of the designated neutral Premier League stadiums, it would look less like a prelude to a match and more like a dangerous military expedition to No Man’s Land. No fans and no anticipation, except the fear of where the next ball comes from.

I know we are all desperate to see football resume, but are we so desperate that we transform a sport we cherish for its escape, tribalism and beauty into a giant sterile area surrounded by a sanitary cordon where passions dominant are fear and cynicism?

So desperate that in our rush to rush with frightened players and empty stadiums, we risk causing even more damage by alienating fans with a spectacle that strips football of almost everything we love it for? In this scenario, Project Restart will turn into Project False Start and the long climb to what we once knew will be even more daunting.

I know we are all desperate to see football resume, but what price are we willing to pay for it?

I know we are all desperate to see football resume, but what price are we willing to pay for it?

Gary Neville said last month that the Premier League is going to have to work hard to win back fans when football resumes, but that doesn’t seem like the way to go. We all want football to be back as soon as possible, so why is there a haunting voice in our heads saying that everything about the timing of this seems wrong?

Part of the reason is that sport is supposed to be fun and it seems as far from fun as the scene in Apocalypse Now, where Lt. Col. Kilgore tries to persuade Lance to take the waves on a surfboard while the mortars explode in the water during a battle between US forces in Vietnam and the Viet Cong.

Kilgore is one of those war-spared men, but as explosions throw sand into the air on the beach, he continues his surfing plan. “Damn it,” shouts Captain Willard, “Don’t you think it’s a bit risky for some R and R? Kilgore yells, “If I say it’s safe to surf on this beach, captain, it’s safe to surf on this beach.”

It’s the same with the Premier League. It is not an easy decision for the clubs and in their defense they are led by the government, which has gone from being a scapegoat for footballers and now wants them to help the nation. resuming in June. 12.

Gary Neville said Premier League will have to work hard to win back fans

Gary Neville said Premier League will have to work hard to win back fans

Hundreds of millions of pounds are at stake here for the clubs and they will only proceed if the government says it is safe for them. The livelihoods of thousands of employees in our football industry are also at risk. And in six weeks, we all hope things will be different.

The plan calls for a general return to work on May 26. In the United States, the PGA Golf Tour plans to return to Texas on June 11. But golf is different. It could be done for social distancing. The same goes for tennis. Football is a team sport, a contact sport, a wrestling, barge and tackle sport and it feels too early. I have the impression that we are not yet thinking quite clearly. Don’t you think it’s a bit risky for R and R?

Football is not separate from society. This is one of them. Think what it is like when you go out for a walk now and meet other people. If football is anything like that, it will be do not look at me, do not touch me, for the love of God, do not cough on me and absolutely do not try to mark me in the corner.

I keep thinking of a scene from the last football game I covered before the lock. After Maidenhead United’s 2-1 National League loss to Stockport County at York Road on March 14 in front of a crowd of 1662 fans, a few of us spoke to Maidenhead manager Alan Devonshire about the decision to play the game. . Her voice was trembling with anger.

“I can’t believe we were here today,” he said. “The powers that be have done everything wrong. F *** football clubs. It’s about people’s lives. My mom is 88 years old and I am worried about her. If one of us who was here today gives it to him, I have to live with it.

Maidenhead manager Alan Devonshire was angry with his team against Stockport on March 14.

Maidenhead manager Alan Devonshire was angry with his team against Stockport on March 14.

It felt like football had left him too late to suspend his season and now it feels like it is too early to talk about returning. Fans are no longer part of the equation, but there is still something oddly cavalier about the idea of ​​resuming football so early. Is social distancing completely abandoned for players? Quarantine after contact with an abandoned infected person?

The problem for football is that players do not exist in a vacuum. They have families. They have elderly parents. They have friends they care about. And you can set up screens in stores and you can rearrange a desk so that people sit further away or come in at different times. But you can’t play a team soccer game and, even if we say that some managers park a bus in front of the goal, we have not yet reached the point where they can put barriers between players.

We must also accept that the Premier League will be judged according to different standards for other organizations welcoming employees because of their profiles. What if a superstar player gets the virus during a game? What if he gets sick? Really sick? There are also other concerns.

“I hope that the Premier League has taken into account the perspective of a seriously injured player embarked on an ambulance and expelled from his hermetically sealed room behind closed doors and in an A&E department already on his knees, all broadcast live on Free TV, “said a president of a lower league club.

Government has declared it safe for hordes of Atletico Madrid fans to descend to Liverpool

Government has declared it safe for hordes of Atletico Madrid fans to descend on Liverpool

“Now there is an image that would define our game for a long time. The larger the bubble that the Premier League tries to explode, the greater the detonation when it bursts.

So maybe football should ignore the government when they say it will be safe to surf on the beach on June 12. The government has said it would be safe for thousands to gather at the Cheltenham festival in March as well, and for the hordes of Atletico Madrid fans to descend on Liverpool for a tie in the Champions League.

Football should therefore be delayed. The best option would be to wait until the number of new infections is negligible and the pressure on the NHS has eased considerably and the danger to players has been reduced and the idea of ​​returning fans is not so far . If we send a message that the fans don’t care, maybe the fans will send a message that football doesn’t matter to them.

The preferred option should always be to finish this season. But when it’s safe. When it suits you. When it doesn’t look like a dash for money. Or the approval notes. If it’s September or October, so be it. If that is not considered feasible, then this season will have to be shortened and decide the ratio of points per game, as was the case in France.

It is better to delay and get public support for the return of football than to rush like fools and public stigma. Football should wait. For the moment, his haste seems indecent. June 12 is too early.

It is better to delay and get public support for the return of football than to rush like fools

It is better to delay and get public support for the return of football than to rush like fools

My heart was broken by Cherry

Leeds legend Trevor Cherry passed away last week. A few days after the announcement of his death, I thought about the special place he held in my love for the game when I saw one of these surveys that became so popular in the absence of sport .

He asked who was the first sportsman who broke your heart and my mind returned to sit in the back seat of my parents’ car, listening to a radio commentary from Leeds and Manchester City in a fifth tie FA Cup tour in 1977.

The FA Cup meant more than that and I was desperate for City to travel to Wembley but, just when it looked like the game was going to be replayed, the commentator’s voice increased and he said that Cherry had scored for Leeds. The match ended 1-0 and I was upset. The big players advance but what they symbolize for us lasts forever.

Trevor Cherry's goal for Leeds against Manchester City was my first football grief

Trevor Cherry’s goal for Leeds against Manchester City was my first football grief

Watmore raises gloom

In the midst of the gloom surrounding the postponement of the test series and the cancellation of The Hundred, this year’s English cricket received good news last week when Ian Watmore was authorized to take the chairmanship of the cricket council. ‘England and Wales after an authorized examination. him for any wrongdoing during his term on the Football League’s board of directors.

Watmore is a man of principle and an excellent administrator. In these difficult times, cricket in this country could not have a better person at the helm.

Ian Watmore has been authorized to chair the England and Wales Cricket Board

Ian Watmore has been authorized to chair the England and Wales Cricket Board

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