European Football Pulls In Different Directions
Much of the talk in the past few weeks, has been based on how the leagues that make up the traditional ‘Big Five’ will look to finish their respective seasons and with Ligue 1 following their Dutch Eredivisie counterparts, an air of uncertainty has suddenly swept across the rest of the continent.
With UEFA announcing that each of their 55 member associations must inform of them of their plans by May 25th, time is running out for competitions such as the Premier League and although the season doesn’t need to be finished by that date, there are some hurdles that first need clearing.
When the Premier League announced, ‘Project Restart’ and their hopes for a resumption in early June, there was a feeling that football across Europe was just starting to revive from its pandemic fuelled slumber.
Not to mention, the Bundesliga had already announced their own plans for a conclusion to the German league campaign and these intentions coupled together, just allowed a sense of extremely cautious optimism to settle within the footballing fraternity.
However, these announcements were made in what was perceived to be a relative position of strength and with the closure of France’s top two divisions joining their Dutch and Belgian cousins, and also a setback in Germany, that show of strength has now become slightly weaker
A small increase in cases within the country since lockdown restrictions were eased, has seen the Bundesliga powerbrokers press the pause button and any attempts to resume the 2019/20 season have subsequently been delayed by at least a week.
While it is these turn of events, that will cause a state of unease within Premier League boardrooms up and down England and although their attempt to get the season finished must be at least commended, at the same time it could just as easily be condemned.
With suggestions that players may have to wear masks during games, it is unsurprising that it has created almost universal derision, and this includes a group that is often forgotten in any conversation - that being the players themselves.
For someone such as Sergio Aguero to come out and say that he and his contemporaries are scared about the prospect of a return, speaks volumes and with someone of his stature adding fuel to the debate, his point will have resonated far greater with the powers that be.
There is an overriding sense that if there was not so much money involved in all the major European leagues, then football would have been parked a long time ago and placed far down the list in terms of current importance.
Unfortunately, in any conversation regarding the beautiful game, finance is such a hot topic and with the long-term viability of clubs now in doubt, this is not an industry that cannot be left on the substitutes bench for the next few months.
Even though the Premier League is viewed as a sporting juggernaut and its members are awash with money, Burnley have made no secret of a potential cash flow problem and one that threatens their very existence, should this hiatus continue.
Which is why the conversations within the Premier League’s headquarters will be rather tense within the next three weeks and in that timeframe, they will have to decide whether to persevere and intend play on or follow the path that has recently been taken across the English Channel.
However, they and all the other major leagues, will have to wait for science to play its trump card and if the ever fluctuating data does not indicate that a return is safe, all these good intentions will be swapped for a Government enforced edict instead.
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