Leeds United and Liverpool in same boat but football insignificant to coronavirus - David Prutton

IT feels like we are in uncharted territory with the coronavirus outbreak.

By David Prutton
Friday, 13th March 2020, 7:47 am
HUGE SUPPORT: Luke Ayling fires home Leeds United's opener in last weekend's 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town in front of packed Elland Road stands. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
HUGE SUPPORT: Luke Ayling fires home Leeds United's opener in last weekend's 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town in front of packed Elland Road stands. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

You just have look at the reaction across Europe and even on Friday morning when you wake up see that Donald Trump has banned everyone in Europe from flying into America apart from the UK.

As far as football is concerned, you’ve got to put this all into context of the greater good and the actual well-being of the general public and citizens of this island as well as our surroundings and surrounding countries and spreading into Europe and across the world.

People’s safety has got to be absolutely paramount and football pales into insignificance when it comes to the general health of people worldwide.

If games are to be played behind closed doors and that is the first step to making sure that football and sport in general can maintain its fixture list and get the season finished then that’s a pre-emptive step.

But if it’s just a first step towards getting the season suspended or postponed then it is completely uncharted territory.

We had the foot and mouth episode but really you are going back decades to find anything comparable such as this when football was postponed during war times.

It’s a very concerning time and there is no escaping the fact that coronavirus is the major topic of global debate right now.

It’s unsettling across the board and worrying for families and everyone who is connected to humanity and each other.

Several high profile games have been played behind closed doors this week including the Champions League clash between Paris St-Germain and Borussia Dortmund in Paris but thousands of PSG fans still turned up outside the ground anway in protest.

In instances such as those, it defeats the object of playing behind closed doors unless you go into military lockdown where you are absolutely going out of your way from a structural and governmental point of view to keep people at arm’s length from each other from a man-power point of view.

Otherwise I can’t see how that would be possible. You are talking about a full country.

Italy is obviously the country at this moment in time where perhaps other European countries might be in a week or two which is something we have never seen in our lifetime.

People will remember the Three-Day Week and the Second World War and there will be very few people that are still around who would have experienced the First World War.

But it’s completely unprecedented for people of our generation and it’s tough trying to discuss it and comprehend it in terms of the position we are in and where we are hopefully going to get to.

Hopefully you trust the Government and the people who make big decisions that affect vast sections of society to get it right and to hopefully pre-empt where we might be in six months time which is hopefully a much more positive and healthy situation. It’s a tough one.

You listen to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola talking about it and the big managers from the biggest teams that are part of the Premier League and the Champions League and they are frustrated because of what the spectacle is.

But as you work your way further down the leagues, the livelihood of smaller clubs is still dependent on people turning up on a match day and getting people through the turnstiles and hospitality and selling whatever comes with their match day experience to make sure they can make ends meet once a month.

That shines a light on how precarious the business of football can be but for certain clubs but that’s just the nature of the beast.

Decisions that have to be made over something like this are never universally accepted and there’s always portions of people who will disagree.

But because of the general health concerns of the public and the well being of people in society and particularly those who are more vulnerable then the greater good has got to come into it for any decision makers’ point of view.

If there are Leeds fans worried about how this might affect the club’s promotion bid then I’m sure Liverpool fans will be thinking similar.

It’s been 30 years since they have won the league and then there is the potential of what could or couldn’t happen at the end of the season.

Does anyone even have any idea with regard to what would happen if it got the point where they had two weeks behind closed doors and the authorities just said we can’t do this?

Does this season just get scratched off and everyone starts again? Do the three teams at the bottom of the Premier League say ‘flipping heck that was a close one but a global pandemic helped us stay in the division.’

But then you would have teams appealing because it becomes not just a football issue but a financial issue and a financial debate too.

We all know When money becomes involved that’s when the heat gets turned up and the debate gets the most ears.

Obviously it would be frustrating for fans up and down the country if they are unable to see their teams in action, especially when you are a team battling relegation.

That is when your fans can really step up and be that cliched 12th man.

When you are a team going for promotion, that is when you can share in the glory and the euphoria of a communion of what football is.

I echo what Guardiola says, without fans football is not the same game. It’s absolutely not. But we must emphasise the word game there.

When people are dying, when governments and the economy is creaking under the weight of what coronavirus is throwing at them then it’s not too big a thing to say that civilisation itself and the maintaining of what human society is has to be absolutely paramount; no matter how frustrating, annoying or upsetting any of it ties in to the emotions of following a football team.

I understand that but I think we all understand the unprecedented times that we are all working through.

That has got to be worked through together and the bigger picture is human survival.