The news today that limited numbers of fans will be allowed to attend the weekend’s games should be a source of rejoicing for all of us. It seems to be a step towards normalcy, a step into a future that more closely resembles the past.
But of course, the past we’re living with is the seven months since an obscure, and hitherto unknown, virus appeared and began to snake its way across the world.
Forget everything you remember; we’re living in what Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have both, at different times but entirely correctly, termed “the new normal.”
The new normal is games played in front of empty stands, and until something profoundly game-changing comes about that’s what we’re living with. This trial test should be a ray of light, but if you look at the horizon there are dark clouds there.
Infection rates are rising everywhere, and they are rising fast. The idea that massed numbers of spectators should be allowed to congregate inside stadiums is a non-starter until we have a firm grip on this thing, and, to be blunt, it’s getting away from us.
The winter is going to be horrendous.
I know there are some people who refuse to take seriously the issues and risks attendant in packing thousands of people through stadium concourses and trying to impose social distancing and mask wearing in those spaces, but none of those people work on the science advisory boards of our government, thank God.
When the flu season combines with this, and when people are less inclined to sit in beer gardens and outdoor spaces because of the weather, the numbers will just keep on going up.
There is no appetite within our government for a second, national, shutdown … and that might be the only thing that stops the period between the start of November and the end of February from being one long horror movie where you don’t want to watch the news at night.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were talking, optimistically, about bringing the numbers down to a point where we could eradicate this thing in Scotland entirely. We were finding single digit numbers of infected each day … now there’s a growing daily average in Greater Glasgow alone which equals that which shut the whole UK down in March.
I am honestly worried already that we’re not going to get through the season without at least one major, enforced, shutdown of the campaign … and that will force the SPFL and the SFA to a decision about whether or not they vote for a shortened season.
That will not be a popular decision, whoever sits atop the league at the time.
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