by Tony Attwood
People who like to think they have power but who actually don’t are prone to making crazy pronouncements which cannot be seen through, without any thought as to practicalities.
It is rather like the fable of King Canute (which is actually the reverse of the truth but is passed on down through English folklore). The tale is that Canute, believing that as he was king he could make any pronouncement and it would come to pass, had his throne placed at the edge of the incoming tide and commanded the sea to go back. As one might expect, the revolution of the earth and the placement of the moon had something to say about that and the sea kept on coming.
In fact, Canute was an extremely pious king who was trying to show those who claimed that he could do anything because he was appointed by God were wrong and that God’s laws prevailed over man’s whims.
But reading the pronouncements of the Premier League, FA, Uefa and Fifa it seems that they are stuck in mythical Canute land believing that they can say something, and it happens.
They have got this way of course because by and large everyone from the fans to club chairmen have bowed down to authorities and done what they have said. The fact that the atrociously corrupt Fifa, or the grotesquely incompetent FA have continued on their merry ways, shows this is so.
Now it seems (according to reports in some British newspapers at least) that Premier League clubs have been told that the 2020/21 season must (MUST, mark you) be started by the first week of September at the very latest. None of this hanging about and waiting for the virus to go away or for government to give permission, it MUST. One can just imagine them saying “See to it will you?” and leaving the mere mortals to get on with it as the tide inexorably comes in.
And if that were not enough they have now said that the current Premier League MUST (not just “must” but MUST) be finished with the playing of all the games.
The problem is that in the UK there is no end in sight to the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, and the government has made it clear that although the last extension of the lockdown is for three more weeks that should not be taken as a sign that in three weeks life will return to normal. When there is a removal of the lockdown it will be through slow stages, and (the government has specifically said) the thought that schools will re-open in three weeks is without any basis.
Indeed in the UK that is the main news this morning on the BBC’s news channel Radio 4.
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This is of course exactly the opposite of the situation in the USA in which President Trump is urging people to disobey the lockdown, something which his supporters are apparently doing with much glee and in large numbers. Given the power of the virus to spread, such gathering could have quite a devastating effect on the President’s level of support within the country. When it comes to King Canute, it turns out the President has misread history along with the FA and Premier League.
Back with the football, there has of course been much talk about the idea of playing games behind closed doors. But seemingly little or no thought about what is done about supporters who insist either on going to the ground in order to stand outside (as we have seen repeatedly in the Uefa Euro finals), or to gather in pubs to watch the games on TV.
Of course the local authorities could issue a plea for supporters not to do this, but can you imagine that having any effect with Arsenal and Tottenham play each other?
Now matters such as this, as you may have noted, simply don’t get debated in the media, apart from the usual mantra that “any plans to restart the season will depend on the government and their social distancing measures.” As it happens the police are greatly stretched anyway and having to police every pub and gathering of fans around the stadia is unlikely to be possible.
Here’s the timetable:
June: Players resume training at the club training grounds with training staff present. Transfer window opens.
July: 2019/20 League season resumes for all four divisions, and quite probably the National League and those below it as well, probably with games played behind closed doors. Plus FA Cup matches to take the Cup through to its Wembley final.
August: Champions League and Europa League matches resume and are played through to the final.
September: Premier League and other English leagues start.
So this means that there needs to be a good test available by June to see if players are free of the virus – and good police control measures to break up large crowds of supporters in places that they should not be – with suitable protective clothing for the police so involved. The clothing they don’t yet have.
The sadness is that they will probably go ahead with this plan. That’s what you get from imperial organisations with absolute power and no sense whatsoever.
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