Date: 3rd October 2020 at 7:58pm
Written by:

Neil Doncaster and Mike Mulraney, representing the SFA and the SPFL, were on BBC Radio Scotland today banging the drum for football.

Or rather, they were on there insulting the Scottish Government and trying to tell them their business over the health crisis.

The soundbite that the media is focussing on was when Mulraney said that the delay in having fans back in grounds was “political and not clinical.”

In the same interview however, he accepts that he is a layperson and that those who make the decisions are simply following the science as it’s presented to them.

These people are admitting they don’t know what they are talking about, but still reserve the right to continue lecturing those who actually do.

It’s all the more ridiculous when you consider that what the people who take these decisions are quite literally dealing in life and death matters. Next to that, the general health and well-being of some football clubs really ought not to be the primary consideration.

I really don’t want to give these guys too hard a time on this; at the end of the day, they represent the sport – God help us – and they are doing their jobs in that regard.

The thing is, few of us trust them to do that job well.

None of us would have Neil Doncaster in post if we had a say in it, and the idea that we should allow people we don’t think should be running football to dictate government health policy during a global pandemic is frankly insane.

This isn’t an original song they are singing either, and I guarantee you that every single time someone in football makes the crack about how it’s “safe” to sit in pubs but not in open stands we lose ten friends of the sport in the hospitality industry, on which so much sponsorship depends, and for what?

In pursuit of stating the bloody obvious.

Because let’s be honest, few people really believe that it is safe to sit in pubs or restaurants either.

People are still doing it, but almost all engage in that activity with the gut feeling that they are playing Russian Roulette.

What no-one wants to admit, but which is surely obvious, is that it’s a matter of time before the hospitality industry is shut down again for a while, and when that happens the leaders of that industry will be forming a queue at every media outlet to tell the world how scandalous it is that their workers and their businesses are being casually tossed aside.

I have sympathy with football’s view, but I have the same sympathy for every other industry which faces pressures during this crisis.

Football clubs will die during this, but so will half of the businesses on our high streets.

Neil Doncaster speaks for his segment of the economy. Someone else speaks for those other poor sods.

All are putting the pressure on.

What Doncaster and co flatly refuse to answer is how letting in limited numbers of fans will do the slightest bit of good.

Those clubs at the bottom, who’s average attendances are a couple of hundred, might well do okay in the short term … any club which relies on thousands of fans coming in through the gates are pretty much screwed either way.

The governing bodies are focussed on the wrong damn thing, but that’s hardly a surprise.

Instead of all the foot stamping – none of which is going to do the slightest good or move people whose concern is the preservation of lives – our “leaders”, inept and clueless as they are, should be focussed on asking the government what support the industry might be able to rely on … this confrontational attitude, as exemplified by the contemptuous suggestion that this is about politics and not science, only annoys people who are already under enormous pressure.

It’s a particularly stupid strategy when you are trying to change those people’s minds.

It’s even stupider when you are asking them for help.

How should football handle the global health crisis? Vote in our poll below … 

How should football's survival be made easier in the current crisis?

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Lower League Football Shutdown?

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