Coronavirus is sweeping the globe, and it’s still totally unknown just what the world will look like in 2 months, let alone 12.
As recently as a week ago last night there were fixtures due to be played behind closed doors, and its incredible how much things have changed in the 7 days since.
The idea of playing a top flight game at all, even without fans, looks faintly ridiculous now that the entire planet seems to be about to enter a minimum of six months lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Premier League last week named 4th April as the day they wanted to get games going again by, but that date looked ambitious to begin with, and now looks utterly farcical. The organisation meets again today to decide further details of their postponement plan.
While we won’t be playing games in just over a fortnight, as they had so hopefully posited, there is a faint chance the world could have returned to normality enough by this summer that clubs and players agree to play out the remaining games of the season – at least in some form.
The shifting of Euro 2020 back to next summer opens up a lot more space for that; but of course the contractual issues with players whose deals expire on a fixed date at the end of June will cause their own issues.
One suggestion is for the 92 games left in the Premier League to be played behind closed doors, at neutral venues. It would be like a kind of summer camp for Premier League teams, who would all nip around the country to play games every few days, racing through the rest of the 2019/2020 calendar in time to take a summer break before next season starts in August.
The games would all be on TV, hopefully somewhat placating Sky, BT and other global broadcasters, and played away from the two teams’ home stadia to avoid fans congregating outside (good luck with that).
The fact that all the games would be played would be a massive relief to the league, who otherwise have to try and sort out a fair way of deciding which promotion, relegation and the Champions League spots (as well as the destination of the title) themselves, opening the door for endless lawsuits from those teams that miss out.
It’s a very ambitious plan, and one that hindsight will probably make look as stupid as the initial suggested restart date in April. But in these uncertain times, it’s a lovely image of televised summer sport that can keep us excited through these bleak weeks of nothing.
Let’s see what the suits come up with in their meeting later today.