The PL season Starts Again on 17 June: Is This Right or Wrong?

Newhaven

Light philosophical thoughts from the Costa Del Forth. 

The club-season-football should have finished by now, but we all know that the invisible-to-the-naked-eye enemy that is killing hundreds of thousands of people across the world has made this football season very different from any others before. It looks like the PL will be recommenced despite hundreds of people still dying of Covid-19 in the UK alone on a daily basis. About 40000 people died in the UK alone until now. Must the show go on?

I am conflicted re the necessity of finishing off the season and the joy to be had from it.

The WSL will not finish its season and The Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland and France have decided to call it a day too. The PL is based on a mega-capitalist system that is foreign to building up fat for (unexpected yet severe) leaner times. It shows time and again that capitalism, with all its benefits and downsides during normal times, is incapable of dealing with a mega-crisis without asking for enormous financial injections by the much kept at a distance, and often undermined/underappreciated, national and international governments.

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The constant footie costs remain high, the income has plummeted and clubs have been making losses almost instantly. Apparently dozens of British clubs are at risk of going under in the next twelve months which would of course be a gigantic disaster. It is all about TV money but also about ticket sales, especially for Arsenal with apparently 40% of all players’ wages funded through loyal, paying Ashburton Grove spectators. By reconvening PL football TV money can flow back into the clubs so I get why everybody is keen to get going again, but it also saddens me that we cannot just cancel the season in respect for all those people killed by the virus and focus on the new season instead.

So here are some questions for you:

  1. Is it safe for the players and support staff, and for their families at home, to resume the competition on the 17th?
  2. How much are you looking forward to watching Arsenal again in a couple of weeks?
  3. Is football without spectators actually football?
  4. Does the show always need to go on?

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By TotalArsenal

 

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18 Responses to The PL season Starts Again on 17 June: Is This Right or Wrong?

  1. pbarany says:

    0. Good post, TA. Sorry for splitting hairs, but it is the 17th of June, not May. 😛

    1. I would say that it is generally safe for players, support staff and families to resume serious training, preparation and eventually competitive matches. 2 caveats here: under ‘family’ I refer to reasonably young and healthy members. Grandparents and anyone with severe health conditions should be excluded from visiting the training ground and from contacting the players regularly. Systematic tests should be in place sponsored by the club, as well as screening the families financed by the players.
    The 2nd caveat is that in full agreement with the Association (since watching the game from the stands is not realistic in masks, and since letting 1500 people in a 60.000 stadium is a nonsense) unfortunately it makes perfect sense that all games will be held behind closed doors.

    2. I’m really looking forward to see the players in action. However it must be acknowledges that not all players share the same view on the risk of the coronavirus (both getting infected and the chance of complications), so on general principle I’m against forcing anybody to train and/or play against his will. A footballer can worry about his own well-being or his loved ones, and this game cannot be played concerned or half-heartedly. On the other hand it cannot be played from home office either, so I would apply financial – but only financial, not disciplinary – consequences for players boycotting games until the pandemic is over. Taking a heavy pay-cut for these months seem like a win-win to both parties, anyway.

    3. That’s a good question. There are historical data on games played behind close doors in result of a club being punished for supporters breaking rules or common decency, and it clearly impacted the home club by leveling the playing field. I have no idea how it impacts the players on the psychological level. But it will not distort the fairness of the game significantly as the clubs will lose home advantage approximately as much as losing the disadvantage of away games. I hope it will not change the TV-experience too much, as the clubs need our support in the form of paying for view and buying merchandise.

    4. I don’t know that either – at least I don’t have persuasive opinion that worth convincing anyone. But I’m not sure if this is a good or important question here. (Assuming) the club needs the show to go on for at least financial purposes, the majority of the players likewise – because of bonuses, for the chance to win silverware, to be found attractive for a high profile transfer, to keep themselves in top shape, not to lose a year in their career, or just the sake of finally playing competitive games), and most supporters are already showing withdrawal symptom, I think the question is not ‘Why resume?’ any more but rather ‘Why not?’.

    +1. It is important not to underestimate the impact of the COVID-19, but it shouldn’t be overreacted either. The Germans have already resumed Bundesliga I-II. Yes their situation is better for a lot of interesting reasons from the call for social distancing measures to the state of their health care system, but it will show that the decision is fundamentally right. The EPL should time their decision when the virus is already in control, but about a month after Germany seems like a reasonable solution.

  2. njk84sg says:

    Great piece of thought provoking post again.

    A club is like a company. There are front facing staffs and there are backend staffs. There are contractors and they rely on the club to make payments on services rendered. They are the ones that are hit hardest due to the current lockdown. Most of the contractors and sub-contractors are going bust due to cashflow issues, as there are no income due to no services rendered whatsoever.

    TA, I understand that you are talking about safety aspects, but a club is a company setup to offer spectator services which sees 22 man on the pitch kicking a football. The issue now is the TV money which needs to be paid for by the TV companies so that clubs can survive. The future of football might be one that is played in front of empty stadiums, and the only “spectators” on the ground are cameramen and club staffs, amongst substitutes.

    In Singapore, we are slowly re-opening. Some companies are allowed to return to work, while at the same time, those who are able to work at home are encouraged to do so. We are going back to the pre-COVID19, where we were split into teams, and working in different locations. This might be the new normal until the rest of the year, and in about a month’s time we will be able to meet our friends and getting some time face to face.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Well spotted PB and very good responses. This is not about right or wrong, even though the title suggest differently; it is about your opinions and you have made your views very well indeed.

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Re your +1, you have a point. We have lost a lot of people here including a couple of hundred NHS/Health workers and there is a real fear of a second wave being even worse. The Germans have indeed managed this better, it seems, so I can see why they decided to restart the season. I feel differently about the PL though.

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks 84. Good to hear from you too (as well as Pb). I understand the business side of things very well. Yet it feels wrong to me here in the UK. I appreciate all views though.

    Sounds like Singapore has it all under control going forward. Let’s hope this year’s F1 competition will still go ahead!

  6. GunnerN5 says:

    That’s an interesting post Total.

    “Is it safe for the players and support staff, and for their families at home, to resume the competition on the 17th?”

    I believe that it should be mandatory that every individual, from both clubs, are tested prior to entering the stadiums and that all of the home clubs staff are also checked. This should create a sterile environment that should protect the players, their families, both clubs staff and the officiating crew.

    ” How much are you looking forward to watching Arsenal again in a couple of weeks?”

    I’m pretty excited to see our team in action again, even if it in front of an empty stadium. It will be interesting to see the line up he employs against his old club and what tactics he uses. Can he out think his old boss?

    “Is football without spectators actually football?”

    It’s always football but will it be the same without the ‘atmosphere’ – in Arsenal’s case it may be to their advantage as the home “atmosphere” is far too often toxic.

    ” Does the show always need to go on?”

    It needs to reach a conclusion to make it a fair competition at both ends of the table. The clubs desperately need to have whatever revenue stream they can get, as their losses must have been enormous – it would not surprise me to see a few PL clubs looking for financial help to stay afloat.

  7. allezkev says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how financially impacted those smaller leagues in the Low Countries and the Peoples Republic of Scotland are when football has to restart, there are already questions being asked about the haste in which Ligue Un was suspended, making empty gestures to prove some point may in the end cost more jobs in those leagues? But I do wonder if the same decisions would have been made if each of those leagues had multi million pound TV contracts to satisfy also ask Celtic and Rangers if they’d like to play in the Premier League?

    I hate to see English football become the plaything of wealthy billionaires and countries, but domestic football in England has always been in the hands of businessmen since the Football League began in 1888, maybe even before. Arsenal have had wealthy bankers on it’s Board of Directors as long as I can remember, it was their club not mine despite my emotional investment, we as fans knew this but at the same time liked to believe that they also were Arsenal fans.
    It’s that change in our ownership that I dislike so much…

    Am I pleased to see football return, yes I am, the more the merrier, we need continue to be aware that the danger hasn’t gone away but normal people need some normality back in our lives.
    Those politically motivated types who hate football because it’s still followed mainly by the normal working class will grumble into their skinny lattes as they demonstrate in Peckham and Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square whilst ignoring social distancing and slagging off everyone else.

  8. allezkev says:

    By the way there’s new Ebola epidemic broken out in Congo so I’ve heard.

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers GN5, yes the tactics and team sheet now that Arteta has had time to think and work with the squad will be interesting.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Maybe they just did the decent thing, Kev? And maybe it is good that they can make those decisions without having to think about the money? Why have the PL become so overdependent on income? It is a simple game in the end but it just has become more and more expensive to run somehow…

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Kevski 🙂

    I get the idea of normality returning and I also welcome that. From watching the German games I can say normality doesn’t really return, though. It is quite otherworldly to watch the games without crowds. The problem with wanting normality back is that we need a stable situation around the virus and as long as that is lacking we will not get it back. No way.

  12. allezkev says:

    Total, I think in the case of Belgium that they had no choice but to cancel their league to be fair, because per head of population during this pandemic, they have probably the highest death rate in the world, that’s if everyone else is being honest with their figures and being the cynic that I am I doubt that very much. Therefore with Holland being immediate neighbours it’s understandable that they would follow suit, but in Scotland I have no idea why they cancelled it?

    You are right about the Premier League selling it’s soul to television, I don’t like it but it is what it is and the alternative is financial ruin, so the show must go on I suppose…

  13. allezkev says:

    I think we’ll be more invested when Arsenal are playing Total even if it seems like a training session.

    I’ve been quite interested in the policy taken by the Swedish government and their reluctance to follow the lockdown method of most everyone else in europe, but yeah, I get you’re point about normality and of course things will seem a bit odd but we can’t all run for the hills can we?

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Kev, the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and France are all in the world top-10 of worst affected C19 countries (as per death per million inhabitants). This is partly due to them communicating their numbers with more transparency, especially Scotland and Belgium. Not allowing sporting events to restart fits a strategy of keeping things under control until it is safe to reconvene as ‘normal’ at some point. The Swedes got it all wrong, I am afraid to say, Kev. They are also in the top-10.

    The Scots are proportionally more dependent on ticket sales and there is no way any country can allow fans to come and watch the game without taking major risks of spreading the virus again.. So it made sense to call it a day and focus on starting the new season in August/September, allowing for time to prepare well and communicate effectively with all stakeholders, including the fans.

    I am looking fwd to seeing Arsenal play again too though.

  15. jw1 says:

    Video

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