Lockdown Football – A Retrospective View

Lockdown Football – A Retrospective View
As the European football season finally comes to something akin to a close, there is cause for collective celebration. Not because of personal or team accolades that have been awarded, but because of the tireless efforts of the past few months. In what was undoubtedly the game’s biggest ever hurdle, the unknown of the unknown looked like it had the ability to close down competitive football for a very long time and although the match with COVID was an incredible tussle, there is a sense of light at the end of the tunnel.

Which means in both the boardroom and the playing field, a pat on the back can be awarded and now that the dust is settling on a somewhat stop start campaign, it is time to take a retrospective view at football in lockdown.

At first, there was a sense of dread, not only for the prospect of health across the continent but also regarding when a ball would be kicked in anger once more and although sport pales into significance in times such as this, there is no doubt of the role it can also play.

Which is why the likes of the Premier League and the Bundesliga were adamant that the show would eventually go on, while although the Belarusian authorities defied scientific logic and continued their schedule unabated, it only went someway to filling such a voracious sporting appetite.

Such was the clamour for action, that Germany’s top division was soon thrust into a much larger spotlight than it had before and with the eyes of the globe now placed upon them, the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were capturing much larger televisual audiences.

Of course, the increase in television ratings came from both home and abroad and with fans locked out of stadia for the foreseeable future, the role of the armchair fan has taken a turn for the technological.

Before it was the roar of a full house, now it is a button on the mixing desk and although it is nowhere near the same in terms of authenticity, the mimicked cheers are at least creating something akin to matchday atmosphere.

Admittedly it is far from perfect, but a lot of these concepts are trial and error and any innovation that helps a return to normality or as close as it can possibly be, can only be lauded for the relative success that it is.

Success has also come from Europe’s top divisions (except for Ligue 1) by not only restarting, but also playing to a finish without any major health scare. Yes, the desire to return was undoubtedly huge, but it had to be safe more than anything else.

Which is why the likes of ‘Project Restart’ in England has been nothing short of an unqualified success and even with a hibernation period of 100 days, the offering on the field was just as dramatic as before.

Much was made of the phenomenon that saw home advantage potentially become a thing of the past and although that did prove to be the case in Germany, it did not seem to be as prevalent across the rest of the continent.

However, it was certainly a statistical quirk to keep us interested and by the time Robert Lewandowski led Bayern to another Bundesliga title, it was time for the Premier League to take the football baton and offer more content for viewers around the world.

With this season suffering the delays it has and the consequential late finishes, it means that the turnover to the following campaign is short and before you can catch a breath, there is still the matter of Champions League and Europa League trophies to be handed out.

Which means, with a UEFA European Championship now 11 months away, it is going to be an almost non-stop feast of football from here on in. We may have had to wait and the reason for disruption can never be forgotten, but next summer should see a huge carnival finally get underway.


Written by Dan Tracey

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