The Devil is in the details they say, but we’re now right on the line.
Football in Scotland will be played behind closed doors as of next week; does that include Sunday? I certainly think it should, but that’s still to be decided.
It would be ridiculous to let that one go ahead and then shut the doors for the rest of the campaign. If we’re in the dark zone, then we’re in the dark zone and there’s no point in pretending anything can go on as normal now.
That game is the most obvious place where the danger lies, and as government health officials will have told the top brass this isn’t about 60,000 sitting out in the stands, although there’s an obvious problem there too. It’s about concourses. It’s about railings. It’s about elevators. It’s about lounges. Worse, it’s about subways and supporter’s buses and tens of thousands of people in bars and pubs all around the country, spreading this thing like crazy.
Regardless of whether that one goes ahead or not, we’ve decisively moved out of the blue and into the black here. We’re now in uncharted territory, and I don’t see, at this point, how we get through the rest of the domestic campaign. The narrative will already be shifting to one whereby certain voices are urging the entire season to be set aside … something I’ve been talking about for a couple of weeks and which UEFA will have a serious problem with.
That we got here is not a surprise. People who aren’t yet taking this seriously need to start.
Life as we know it is over for a while, perhaps months. It’s horrific.
For some people it’s going to be shattering.
But it’s real and it is here and it needs to be dealt with.
The Scottish government says that when the figures are published today – at around 2 o’clock – they will show a major spike in the numbers. That’s hardly a shock either; I posted the other day on how the Italian epidemic went from a couple of dozen to many thousands in just three weeks … that’s the dynamic we’re dealing with.
That’s what we have to halt.
Football is but one casualty of this, but it’s the one that’s central to so many of our lives.
Obviously, the show will go on. The bloggers will keep on doing what we do, but the coverage is going to have to shift as well somewhat, to the political machinations, which will decide whether competitions can still go ahead and what should be done about those in progress.
We are not going to like all that we hear. Our quest for the quadruple treble is almost certainly at an end. Cup competitions do not need to be played to their conclusion, and I have serious doubts that the Scottish Cup is going to be completed; UEFA faces the same dilemma in terms of its two major European competitions, and I think both will be abandoned.
There’s an awful lot of “wait and see” going on; I doubt very much that it can be sustained. Games have been postponed for a fortnight in Spain, and elsewhere, in the hope – almost certainly in vain – that the situation will have dramatically improved by then.
Don’t count on it. This gets a lot worse before it starts to get better.
That means that the fixture backlog is going to get larger and larger and larger. Domestic seasons might be suspended until the summer; the Euros are certainly not going to take place and I have no idea why UEFA hasn’t already accepted that and acted accordingly. Push them for 12 months, and we might have a chance of finishing domestic leagues in May and June … that gives us time for real, and dramatic, containment measures to work and protects the competitions which we’re already playing … it eliminates pre-season but if football takes an extended sabbatical then our players are going to get more rest than they have in years.
This is where we are.
This is what football – and wider society – has to deal with.
There’s little point in being angry, and only limited value in being scared.
Being scared paralyses your thinking, and everyone needs to be considering their own situation carefully; how ready are you for an extended shut-down of everything fundamental to day-to-day life? What can we each do, individually, and collectively, to minimise the spread of this thing?
Football seems small beer compared to that, but football is what we talk about here.
That, too, is going to change for a wee while because although everything that appears on here will be directly related to the game, the politics surrounding it are about to get very complicated and very murky indeed. And yes, it’s going to get down and dirty. Of course.
We’ll be here to cover it all.
Expect anything at this point. Expect everything.