Wednesday, 29 April 2020

SPFL restart - what we know and what we don't


With talk of English football resuming behind closed doors in June, Germany next month and other tentative preliminary discussion about certain sport having a restart in the medium term, just where is Scottish football left in the meantime?

Of course, the incredulous vote among other nonsense has derailed sensible debate about how to actually proceed forward, with the SPFL mired in its own incompetency and potentially facing legal action from at least three clubs, but that’s another debate for another day.

In this piece we try to look at things sensibly, with what we know, what we don’t, and look where Scottish football currently is and when it could hope to resume.

As everyone knows, there has been an improvement lately in the crisis. It has not been getting any worse, and is making its first steps, thanks to government action both north and south of the border, towards some small semblance of recovery.

There is a long long way to go, and things are likely to never be the same again once the worst of this is past, but we can now see a shift in tone in the media and government message which alludes to a sliver of future it was hard to see even two weeks ago.

So what does Scottish football do?

Well, like German football is looking at – closed doors football with rigorous testing is certainly a way forward. The Bundesliga, whose nation dealt with the crisis quite well, and had less losses than any other major European nation (by a distance, despite being the biggest country in Europe), plan on closed door action next month, which is a stunning turnaround by any stretch.

Do Scotland emulate this? There have been around 10,000 reported cases north of the border, and in a nation of around 7M people this is reasonably well managed – but if Scotland is to resume football (be it next season or the end of this season) it would have to be subject to stringent testing and tight control. And that’s something Scotland isn’t the best at.

Bear in mind, English teams have already allowed individual players to return to training, and that’s a gargantuan step towards football again.

We see no reason why football behind closed doors, as long as players are all tested and keep isolated from friends and family before the match takes place and results come back, is not possible.

Current tests only take around 48+ hours to come back, so testing on players if done properly and all precautions are properly taken, is a definite route.

Because while this crisis is more important than football, there is only so long society can remain locked down with absolutely no optimism or entertainment.

This is not to say the masses must be entertained at all costs, far from it – but if there is a safe way to give the people a little joy with some sport, at no risk to the players, we don’t see why this cannot be done.

None of this would ever happen before June or July, in truth – Germany have handled this well and they’re a unique case. But with PL clubs allowing players to train again, there is just a small sign we have a little light at the end of the tunnel now.

We’ll see how it goes.

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