Another to answer the call for guest bloggers was a Twitter pal of mine, Mr Tim Gough, who has something to get off his chest. Take it away Tim…
You cannot dispute that we’re living through unprecedented times. What was normal a few weeks ago, is but a dim and distant memory now.
It seems hard to believe that it was just 56 days ago when I accompanied my son Isaac to watch our dramatic FA Cup 5th Round win against Spurs at the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
On the relatively short train journey back to Stratford, we got talking to a couple of Spurs fans who were berating their side’s lack of desire and woeful form. Inevitably the conversation turned to whether I thought Norwich would escape impending relegation this year. I recall pontificating in such detail on our season to date, that as we drew alongside the platform at Stratford, I still hadn’t concluded my answer.
As it turns out, my answer would have been irrelevant anyway. Who could have known the enormity of what was coming our way, and just how profound the changes to our lives would be?
With such sudden societal shifts, I really don’t, for a single minute, see how this season can be completed. In all honesty, I can’t envisage next season taking place either. Certainly not in the format and length of competitions we’ve enjoyed in recent seasons. Why such pessimism you may ask? One word. Reality.
For all the postulations, predictions and hypotheses we’ve read, heard and debated since lockdown, it occurs to me that many of those running football don’t seem to equate the new reality to what went before.
Of course, I understand the desire of the game’s governing bodies and clubs to complete the season for financial reasons. I comprehend the football writers insistence that the professional leagues have to conclude to maintain the integrity of the competition. I’m absolutely with the fans who just want their football back. Goodness knows we could do with the escapism of all that being at Carrow Road on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm brings.
Yet we’re still in the grip of a global pandemic that has altered our everyday lives, and will certainly change life for a generation or two ahead. Football will not be exempt from that, which is why I find the over-whelming urge to resume the professional game at almost any cost, inherently distasteful against the present backdrop.
The French Ligues 1 and 2 had previously indicated that games could resume behind closed doors by the middle of June, but common sense has finally prevailed and, like the Dutch, they have decided that season 2019/20 will be cancelled.
But Italy’s Serie A is examining a proposal of resumption to training from May 4th with competition restarting by the beginning of June and the Germans have been even bolder with their plans to recommence the Bundesliga as soon as May 9th, given Governmental approval. It’s been reported that 20,000 Coronavirus tests will be needed, players will be asked to wash their own kits, and some grounds will have cardboard cut-outs of supporters.
Sorry, did someone say reality?
As we know, the English Premier League is impatient in its attempts to get going again. So-called “Project Restart” launched this week with players from some clubs returning to their training grounds.
Rumours the Government are keen to see matches resume because it would be a ‘morale-booster for the nation’ is pure ‘fantasy football’… but without Baddiel, Skinner and Statto. And the fun.
The reality is, without a coherent exit strategy to lockdown, and how life will be phased back in over the coming weeks and months to prevent a second wave of infection, everything about resuming the professional game in this country has to remain wholly unrealistic and pure conjecture.
Of course, the ongoing delays mean there are huge pressures to bear on our clubs. They are businesses that generate their revenues on a football pitch. Without the beautiful game, there is no income. Football is like no other business, and without football there will be no business left for many clubs.
That is a sobering thought right now, but ask yourself, how can the game realistically restart any time soon given the continued high threat-levels from the pandemic, particularly here in Britain.
Canaries legend Chris Sutton took to Twitter last week, with an interesting observation:
He’s right to question the game’s morals, but when the pressures of billions of pounds are at threat, who in the game is going to question morality?
An inert selfishness has engulfed top-flight football for far too long, and it pervades even now when everything around it has changed. Stop, for goodness sake. Look around you. The bubble has burst. Reality is very different now. Even the context of Bill Shankly’s infamous words have suddenly taken on a very different light.
And yet, the endless conversations about resuming the season will continue. Sadly though, it won’t resume for the good of the game and certainly not for the benefit to supporters.
Social distancing measures mean we’ll be locked-out even if we’re out of lock-down. We have to accept that we won’t be filing-in through Carrow Road’s turnstiles again in great numbers any time this year. So why the rush to restart football now?
It seems some think there’s just too much at stake for the game to stop because of a mere worldwide health emergency, and that is precisely where football has lost the plot.
Generations of supporters have been the heart, soul, and true lifeblood of this game, and yet the obscene amounts of money flowing into the sport has increasingly resulted in serving the armchair fan at home.
Those who sacrifice much to follow their club week-in and week-out, are once again ignored just so boxes can be ticked and multi-million-pound contracts fulfilled.
The reality is, football is nothing without its supporters.
While you’re here…
In these difficult and trying times, MFW too is struggling. Generating income streams through ad revenue is a challenge across the globe and we have taken our own hit.
As such, we become increasingly reliant on the good people whose generosity extends to supporting us through a monthly Patreon subscription. For these kind folk we are, and will remain, eternally grateful.
We appreciate times are hard for all of us, and every penny counts, but if any more of you could see fit to help us in this way, we’d be so thankful.
We also recognise that we have not expressed our gratitude sufficiently for the kindness of our existing donors, and so there’ll be some exclusive content on its way in the next few weeks by way of a small thank you; something we intend to make a regular feature.
So, once again, thank you. Without you, the readers, we would not even exist. Please stay safe.
If anyone is interested in taking a look at our Patreon page, it’s here.