This season looks like ending abruptly.
The Covid-19 outbreak has led to all forms of sport grinding to a shuddering halt. Titanic tussles, championship deciders – no matter how important the fixture or race or meet was – they have all been shuffled off to the side and have had a blanket thrown over them – until sport can resume.
The problem with that is – when that will be. No one can really say. Bring mass gatherings back too soon and we face another spell of lockdown misery. Bring sport back too late? Entire seasons and titles will be consigned to the halls of limbo – undecided forevermore.
The biggest cause for concern though, is that with no games being played – that means no money. With exorbitant sums being passed around and money becoming the lifeblood that keeps the sports ticking over – it means the very existence of some organisations could be under threat.
So plans have to be put into action – and quickly.
How do the FA, the Premier League and clubs – as well as TV companies – get the readies coming back in?
How does football survive?
There are a few methods that could mean survival and at least a few coins being thrown to the needy. None of those involve what the Eredivisie and Ligue Un have decided – to null and void the entire season and start afresh from next season.
That would lead to some very messy situations. Clubs fighting for promotion and to avoid relegation, European places – all lucrative in their own way. And not one club would simply put their hands up and consign this campaign to the history books if they had a chance of achieving anything.
And that is the problem. Everything is still very much up for grabs.
Maybe this is why the Premier League is reportedly writing up plans to finish the season behind closed doors.
The remaining fixtures of the league campaign will be played quickly, with just days between fixtures. No fans in the stands, but everything that is undecided can be decided.
It also results in opportunity to inject some money into the coffers.
With each remaining fixture already carved up by TV companies – if they aren’t to be played then that cash would have to be paid back by cash-strapped clubs
So if these games are played behind closed doors, the cameras can still be on and some form of pay-per-view can be organised. Watch the game? That’ll be a fiver. Every game televised and available through the club, to view.
It would mean we could get our fix – our club back in action. It wouldn’t mean we can watch them in the stands – a return to the matchday routine could be some time off – but at least the Arsenal would be back in our lives.
For a fan, the remaining season being played out behind closed doors is a solution none of us want. For clubs, it gives them a breath of life as opposed to looking at the coffers – which all major companies are facing right now.
The reality is, money is that important and has overtaken the fan as the most important factor of football. The prospect of doing this about twenty years ago would be far less palatable to the power people than it is now.
The very real prospect of games being played without fans is on our doorstep – and it is a frightening vision of the game in the future – where the fan is simply used as a source of income.