Premier League football is coming back and at a time when sporting entertainment of any kind has been scarce. It’s a massive gamble in a high stakes game that threatens to deliver more losers than winners.
All it will take is one case of COVID-19 to end the season completely, risking the existence and livelihoods of clubs across the country, but we all know that the risks are predictably acceptable because there’s no other choice.
If the Premier League season had been cancelled before now, we’d have witnessed the administrators putting the padlocks on the gates of a great many football institutions. The decision has been left as long as possible before the Government agreed to reboot the fixture list and now the unstoppable recommencement of the Premier League is crucial to the future of the sport in this country.
Who knows how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the game in the long term or if it can recover its status or ability to generate enormous sums of money. Will advertisers and sponsors be more cautious with the suggested changes? Will television companies have a greater say in a post-COVID-19 world? It’s something to think about.
We could be on the verge of major changes to how the game is approached and played, for instance, it could result in shorter playing time and could include the current 5 substitute ruling permanently but hopefully, stop short of playing the game in American football style periods. That would kill it off altogether.
Bad enough with an ill-conceived VAR system, open to individual interpretation which clashes with the guidelines.
This whole decision to play on behind closed doors could damage the Premier League as a product and the reputation of subsequent clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City around the globe. If it ceases to deliver the entertainment or intensity normally associated with it, then irreparable damage will have been done.
If it feels like a diluted or second rate version of the best English and possibly European league in the world, then the whole reboot will have been an unmitigated disaster. The FA, not normally known for its progressive thinking, have reacted to the situation but, have they legislated for the circumstances suitably? It doesn’t feel like it! It feels like it’s all about the money.
The bottom line is that it’s all about preventing the haemorrhaging of money in football. The massive sums aren’t coming in, but the clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Burnley alike all still have huge amounts going out especially in wages. Some form of income is preferable to none, but whether that will be enough to stop clubs like Burnley or Brighton from disappearing is another question altogether.