Amidst all the smooth talking from people like Jason Leitch, there is a message slowly coming through and although it’s a Scottish voice we’re trying to listen to, the drumbeat is loudest in England.
Down south, managers are about to meet to discuss the global health emergency with the full approval of their chairmen. As I write this, the Villa game has just been cancelled which all but wipes out the Premiership card for the day.
Look down the English card. I read earlier that it has been “decimated.” The word is over-used and its modern meaning – to remove a large percentage of something – is at odds with its historical origins.
It came from Rome, where entire legions were punished for the sins of their soldiers by the systematic killing of one in every ten when discipline broke down.
This is not, therefore, decimation.
This is annihilation.
The EPL has been nearly wiped out. The Championship has been brutalised. The lower leagues are no better off. This wave has slammed into English football and drowned it.
That wave will sweep north, and all the soft words from Jason Leitch will not stop it.
Nothing will stop it because the very action that could stop it is what nobody wants to do.
The sort of measures which might make a difference are seen as politically unacceptable and so the whole of this island has been thrust, again, into a vast epidemiology experiment.
The thing is, if this thing breaks on the shore and rushes across the landscape as most now expect it to, there is simply no avoiding something that looks an awful lot like a lockdown.
Experts are already telling the government in London that it needs to happen now or we’ll be too late to avoid a major disaster.
Nobody will do what has to be done.
Not yet anyway. Those babes in the woods who place their faith in government to save us in time of major crisis must be living in denial not to see the familiar pattern repeating itself.
Government has acted too late at every stage of this thing. This will be no exception.
But that doesn’t change the certainty of concerted action, whether it comes too late or not. Leitch went out of his way today not to make any guarantees about the football, but you would have to be daft not to see that football can’t escape this.
The mixed messages from the governments on both sides of the border are frankly barmy.
“We won’t tell you what to do, but we advise you to use good judgement.”
Telling people to do whatever they like is the opposite of leadership at a time like this. What we need are some clear guidelines, some legally defined do’s and don’ts … anything else is worthless.
So nothing will stop this thing from hitting us like a hammer. It’s going to happen.
The consequences might be enormous.
The government in London will, at some stage, be forced to do something to limit the damage, and half-measures will not do it.
Celtic has to be ready for whatever is coming, not least because there are worst case scenarios which we have to consider if we’re being smart. If football is suspended there is ample precedent for calling the league early on an “as you were” basis.
Anyone who doesn’t think that Ibrox would reverse its position on this, if they’re top, is quite mad.
Clubs are now testing players on a daily basis.
With the way the new variant spreads there is zero chance that any side in this country can avoid positive cases at some point, and that means that the game is already a hostage to this outbreak.
The larger issues, about “circuit breakers” and measures to protect the health service are much bigger than football and so football will be a pretty small consideration when those decisions are made. Jason Leitch is well aware of that. The SFA and the SPFL are well aware of it. The clubs must be aware of it. Celtic must be aware of it.
Looking at the way the governments in London and Edinburgh are delaying real action means that we’ll be deep in the shit by the time they take it. So I’m going to enjoy the football whilst I still can, because at some point the game will be brought to a halt for a while.
Short term, maybe. But don’t rule out something bigger, and longer.
It’s no use now hoping for the best. That ship has sailed.
It’s time to start preparing for the worst.
I imagine that all at Celtic already know it.