Steve Bruce has warned that football is now becoming dangerous, but despite the rocketing levels of COVID-19 cases, the chances of the elite game stopping are remote…
We’ve just enjoyed one of the best FA Cup third round weekends in ages, four or five teams could plausibly win the Premier League and there are title races in most of the major leagues in Europe.
But even though the football is pretty compelling, we must ask the question: should it still be happening.
With COVID-19 cases rocketing in the UK and the worst probably yet to come, the continuation of elite football feels incongruous, to say the least.
But as the panellists discussed on The Totally Football Show this week, while there might be a sensible and logical case to stop the game, it probably won’t happen.
“I can only see it getting worse,” said Faye Carruthers. “We’ve still got the Christmas ‘spike’ to come in. Even though the protocols are supposed to be excellent in the Premier League, we’re seeing outbreaks in Premier League clubs as well. Something isn’t working somewhere.
“The Premier League released a statement saying they’re tightening things up and that managers and players have to be much more aware of handshakes and high-fives, but that went out the window very early doors, on about game two of the restart.
“Something has to change. I’m not sure a circuit-breaker is going to work, because where do you fit these matches in?
“We have to stop again permanently.”
But is that likely?
“No, I don’t think so. I think the Premier League have made it very clear that they’re not intending to stop.
“Steve Bruce said the other day that it’s just getting dangerous now.”
Daniel Storey continued: “The only major thing that will happen will be a permanent stop. Otherwise they’ll just try to muddle on and fit games in as they can.
“Spurs at the start of the season did play Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, and it might be that some teams have to do that.”
Sasha Goryunov added: “You can see everywhere that infection rates are going up, and if you look at the latest round of testing I think it was 112 from 3,500 – so one in 30 players, which is London levels – it suggests these bubbles, if they were in place, aren’t quite working.
“I’ve enjoyed the football, but I’ve very much had this at the back of my mind.
“There’s going to be no more room for more rearranged fixtures, unless teams are playing every second day.”
Some of the pressure might have been alleviated if we weren’t still trying to cram an entire season’s worth of games into 9/10ths of a season, when we knew very well that there would be postponements and the season couldn’t be extended because of the Euros (although there’s still considerable doubt that will actually happen.)
“It seems remarkable,” said Daniel Storey, “that the relevant bodies couldn’t get together and agree that it was a bad idea to play every single match of every single season, barring FA Cup replays and League Cup semi-final second legs, in a month shorter [than a usual season] when they couldn’t extend the season, at a time when a second spike was overwhelmingly likely.
“They really are trying to do with with sawdust and crossed fingers.”
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