Well, things are unravelling at quite a pace. No sooner had Arsenal announced that Mikel Arteta had been downed by the cursed Covid-19, Leicester, Chelsea, Bournemouth and City also leaked that they had players and staff being isolated.
The Premier League, facing pressure from all angles eventually did the right thing and announced a suspension of the season until at least early April.
This still felt a bit fantastical, but it at least kept the season alive. Today, the reality is dawning on many that the season has a very, very low chance of seeing its logical conclusion. The UK Gov scientists, whilst pushing their odd strategy of herd immunity, have declared that they don’t think we’ll be hitting Peak-Covid-19 until the middle of June. By then, any hope of rescuing the season will be well and truly buried.
So before we jump into that, the good news is Mikel has told the virus that he is disappointed in it and it’s not living up to his exacting principles of the game.
‘Of course I am disappointed, this is not how we want to play’
He’s beating it into shape and expected to make a full recovery. It’s great to see the world of football fandom supporting his recovery tweets. Look at those numbers man, outrageous.
Thanks for your words and support.Feeling better already.We’re all facing a huge & unprecedented challenge.Everyone’s health is all that matters right now.Protect each other by following the guidelines & we’ll come through this together.Well done PL for making the right decisions pic.twitter.com/0rnwHmQWha
— Mikel Arteta (@m8arteta) March 13, 2020
In Le Grove news, we had our first victim of the virus. Ernest from the comments, we all wish you and your wife the speediest of recoveries. That goes for anyone else, BIG love from this .co.uk.
So back to the Premier League.
This situation could turn into a bit of a debacle for fans, clubs and players.
Settling the League
I think we’re all fairly ok with the idea of handing Liverpool the title. It works out nicely for everyone. Obviously they won, but their fans can never obnoxiously bray about it. Firstly, they won it part-time. Secondly, they were beaten (lololol). They’ll never have full bragging rights because they didn’t finish it from a mathematically conclusive position. They’ve basically won Wembley Doubles on the technicality that the sun went down and there are no floodlights in the park… there’s also a guy in the bushes who looks like a pervert.
Imagine the song:
‘We won the league, we won the league because of Covid-niiinteeen’
The big question is what happens to the positions of the other clubs? Karen Brady has said she thinks they should be given their positions from last season.
‘Suspension or cancellation of the league was always a certainty.’
‘There is no dodging the possibility that all levels in the EFL, as well as the Premier League, will have to be cancelled and this season declared null and void because if the players can’t play the games can’t go ahead.’
This comment stands out more aggressively than a sneezer on the tube. She’s laid her stake in the ground early on. It’s very crass. But if we dig into the reality of what that would mean… it’d take Arsenal to 5th in the league and back into the Champions League.
Clubs in yellow would benefit from the PL season being voided. If City’s ban is upheld, Arsenal stand to be the biggest winners of all after finishing 5th last year. United would be among biggest losers with two trophies to play for & implications to their Adidas deal #MUFC pic.twitter.com/VHoHvVfFS2
— James Robson (@jamesrobsonES) March 14, 2020
Am I going to fight this sort of righteous thinking? Absolutely not. I kid, I kid. It’d be lunacy to dumb it down to something like that. Next years football season wouldn’t start, there’d be protests strong than Steve Bruce in that cup game, and a whole host of clubs would file legal complaints. Remember, right now 12th to 5th is only 8 points. You could literally have Everton lodging a complaint here. It might be unrealistic, but on paper, it’s far from it.
How would you decide who was relegated? 20th to 16th is currently a gap of 6 points. That is NOTHING.
Who would tell Leeds and WBA that they weren’t allowed into the Premier League next season? How do you decide the playoffs? 6th to 13th has a miserly 6 points splitting them!
It’s almost too complicated to engage with. You look at the dramz it’d cause, you wonder if there is any way they can cancel the season? Maybe they have to pick it up again. Maybe the entire football calendar globally has the chance to be resynced to something more normal. How would you feel about the season starting in January and running through the summer? I’d be down for it. Let’s fucking do it. Summer football here we come!
Soooo, about the cash/money. Firstly, Arsenal are going to lose about £10m in gate receipts. Then there’s the hefty question of fan compensation. This is a force majeure, no doubt, but there are going to be a lot of fans fearing for their jobs right now, so getting a refund on a ticket they didn’t get full use out of is going to be a top, top priority.
Will football take the route of big business? The Delta CEO has given up his salary. Google are paying their contractors. Most are resisting layoffs (he says after week one). They are all keen to take a stand that keeps their businesses intact / doesn’t leave them hate figures when all this settles down. Will the club ask players to take a hit for the fans? That is a huge question. We’re not in great shape as it is financially, so how we deal with this will be interesting.
… but it gets more complicated. The TV beasts pay for sport. If the clubs don’t complete the season, the cash goes. At the minute, that looks like it could be a further £37.5m per club. That is absolutely huge if you’re any size of club, but damn, think of the small ones. How can Aston Villa absorb such a loss with money committed? Can you really ask media companies to take that on as a gesture? Will advertiser pony up to put their brands against Sky Gold Classics? I have my doubts. Every money challenge you read about has another tied to it. This is not simple.
What would be interesting is this: If TV firms ask for the money back, does that annul the contracts that have been agreed? Then does that open up an opportunity for the Premier League to take a begging bowl to Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook? That could be leverage. After all, Apple and Amazon aren’t getting into bed with content to sell ad space… they also both see the VERY long game. The rundle (recurring revenue bundle) is key to their future. Is there a better way to drive an uptick in recurring subs than Premier League football distributed through their expansive pipes? I don’t think so.
At risk staff
The final concern would be all the folk that help support Arsenal during match days. Are we doing anything for them? They don’t earn a lot as it is, but the idea that these folks have had their finances blitzed, with no other clear way to earn money is quite a nasty thought. It’s also dangerous because they are the sort of people that’ll go to work sick to pay the bills.
… challenge is this: The club is literally bleeding money if all of this goes down the pan. So again, we land in a situation where you have to look to the elite of sport and billionaires to come forward and do the right thing. If I was Josh K, I’d look at this as an opportunity to be the hero, ingratiate yourself with the fanbase, and do something that is absolutely Arsenal class. Look after those vulnerable to the shocks to the economy when times are rough.
I think this situation is unbelievably challenging and extremely complex. I think we have to go easy on Arsenal, because however they handle this, there will be parties that are affected negatively. Regardless, I really hope we take a positive stand and lead the way on doing the right thing, especially with zero hours contract type folk… more broadly, I hope that the entire Premier League can come to a resolution that puts the safety of people first and preserves the league with integrity.
Outside that, I’m going to grab the popcorn (gloved/no sharing) and see how this plays out.
Stay safe, stay distanced, and come back often… I’ll be here daily with words and sounds. See you in the comments x