When you watch football, what is it that you love most? For me, it is the atmosphere. Any sporting event brings a level of camaraderie that is unmatched. With people you have never met before in your entire life, you can find something in common and actually come together. Not once in that stadium are their political views made known to you, and how their family life is becomes unimportant in how you treat one another. In that stadium, nothing matters but the game.
That’s been lost. At least for now. COVID-19 has changed our lives in ways that we could never imagine. Ways that have stunted the progress of the school year, and even content plans for sites like Coming Home Newcastle, and other sporting coverage. But life will return to normal, and we want to assure you of that.
The Premier League has been discussing plans to return to action in June, and attempt to finish up this season nearly six weeks before the beginning of the next one. Originally, the season was pushed back to April 3rd, but that became increasingly unlikely as the coronavirus has shut down entire communities and placed entire countries on lock down. April 30th became the new date but that, too, has become improbable.
We anticipate this pandemic to last for months, not weeks. We anticipate millions more people to be infected before this is all over. An April 30th date comes across as not only improbable, but reckless.
But will this all be done by the end of May? And what does this mean for fans? For players who have their contracts usually run out in June? What about the clubs who are taking million dollar hits in lost revenue?
It means for fans that we’ll just have to wait a little longer to get our beloved football back. And even then, there may still be some stringent rules on social distancing. There is no guarantee that we’ll be able to actually be in the stadium come June 1. The details are fresh and they’re not abundant. We have to continue to wait and see exactly how much longer COVID-19 is going to continue to affect global economies and industries. Because, yes, sport is an industry, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just letting fans in a stadium.
For players, the Football Association has agreed that the season can be extended “indefinitely”. So they’re working on a plan to allow players’ contracts to run through just the end of this season. But having the league run into summer could adversely affect the transfer market. Many teams attempt to purchase early to get the players on the training ground as soon as possible, and the transfer market opens June 10. If the league were to attempt to finish its season, it would be playing in the middle of a transfer market. If players get injured, or bought or sold, this could make for a rough end to the 2019-2020 season.
For clubs attempting to make up lost revenue, what good is playing if fans can’t be there? We aren’t buying your food and drinks, and we’re not filling up your stadium with $100 tickets. Sure the Premier League revenue payout will be there, but it is not going to be the same.