From socialising to working, almost every part of our lives are now online. However, there are some things that simply can’t make this kind of transition.
Strict rules about social distancing that have been put in place to save our lives and protect us from the effects of Covid-19 have meant that the whole industry of sport and games have been struggling.
There are now numerous new issues for football leagues all over the world due to the coronavirus outbreak. The obvious complication is that, with no public gatherings being allowed, stadiums are shut and games are indefinitely postponed.
A lack of income has made it hard for some clubs to survive. Premier League clubs have said that they would refund up to £177 million to season ticket holders.
There is the possibility of having future matches played behind closed doors. This would mean that there would be no fans in the stadium and that players would have to be tested before each game.
This could be tricky because of the time delay in getting the results; all the testing would have to take place at least two days before the game was played.
This could become a problem. Players say that even if games were played behind closed doors, fans would congregate outside the stadium to support and celebrate.
Liverpool left back, Andy Robertson thinks that many people might not respect and conform to the government’s guidelines on social distancing.
However, this could actually boost the new trend of streaming and watching matches from home. TV and online sport subscriptions would soar, with all the fans forced to watch their teams on their screens instead of in the stadium.
Clubs have been struggling to continue to pay all the people that work for them: from the groundsmen to the stadium security. There has been a lot of anger at the chairmen who have continued to fully pay their players’ wages – which have an overall average of £3 million, last season – when they have also furloughed other stadium and behind-the-scenes staff (including coaches and merchandise sellers).
David De Gea, who (as of January 2020) is the highest paid Premier League football player is getting paid an annual salary of £19.5 million.
Liverpool was one of the clubs that originally put non-playing staff on leave and forced them to take advantage of the government’s 80% retention scheme but now, after reviews by the board, they are fully paying their staff again.
Health secretary, Matt Hancock has suggested that team players with full salaries should offer to take a voluntary pay cut so that their club can afford to continue supporting their other staff.
Early last month, he said, “Given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution,”
However, this hasn’t really caught on with all the players. Instead, players have done different things to help the community and the Premier League has given £20m to the NHS and charitable causes.
The Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson, has led a drive among players that is expected to make a similar donation to the health service.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) has fronted a campaign for the charity ‘FareShare’, helping children unable to access free school meals.
But what about the current 2019/20 season? For now, it’s off, there remains 92 games to play of this season and an important question is: who is taking home the trophy?
If you have been keeping up with this season, you will know that Liverpool have dominated their opponents so far.
Their last match was on the 7th March and up until then, they had played 29 games, 27 of which they won (drew 1 and lost 1). They currently have 82 points, 25 above second-place Manchester City.
They have about 9 matches left to play and are 2 wins away from a secured victory.
Although Liverpool has had the best performance this year, they can’t be sure of the title yet. FIFA has talked about a number of different outcomes, not all in Liverpool’s favour.
They could either go on an average game points system; work out an average number of points per game and order the teams that way. Or they could completely cancel the league this season.
This would mean that the same teams of last season would play in the Champions League and Manchester City would retain the title from last year while Liverpool would continue their trophyless streak in the Prem.
Another factor that could complicate any hopes of completing the season is the timing of players’ contracts.
Commonly, contracts run until 30 June, which would mean that, if delayed matches were to be played later than that date, players who had previously been under contract may no longer be and could in fact have agreed deals to sign at new clubs.
Fans might fear that this might mean the end of football. The Premier League’s 20 clubs made record revenues of £4.827bn in 2017‑18, paying total wages of £2.8bn. This multi-billion pound structure will not go down without a fight.
The league with 13.6 million fans who show up in the stadiums and 70% of the UK population watching it from home, English football is far from dead.