Our worst fears for Scottish football have been rightly realised following a nationwide suspension of all football until further notice. Who knows when we’ll emerge from this dark cloud we are currently under.
Before you go on and read this piece (I hope), please be aware this is simply my two cents. I’ve no access to a crystal ball and I’m certainly no medical expert with a solution to tackling the virus taking over the world.
First originated in China, Covid-19 has made its way worldwide from Asia, causing enough havoc to postpone everything in Scottish football, from your kids U12s match, to Albion Rovers v Queen’s Park and Motherwell v Aberdeen. Surreal.
We’re in unchartered territory and who knows what’ll happen from this point onwards.
In for the long haul
Over 137,000 cases have been diagnosed at the time of writing worldwide. In truth, Covid-19 is far, far more widespread than that, with tens of thousands of cases in the UK alone, many unidentified.
Leagues across the world shutdown one after another, along with other sporting events. It looked like SPFL duties would be carried out this weekend as of Thursday and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s comments to ban mass gatherings from next Monday.
But British football has jumped the gun on this one and brought about the inevitable a weekend early. The right thing to do, but it’s undeniable that we now don’t know what’ll happen.
There’s no guarantee that football will be back next month. It could be a fortnight, eight weeks, three months, six months. Nobody actually knows what happens from here and that may be one of the most alarming factors.
Already we have seen some SPFL players confirmed to have gone into self quarantine. You’d like to think that would then rule out behind closed doors matches as more and more club officials become sick or self-isolate.
We’ve already had the Armageddon warnings of clubs going into complete shutdown but that’s a column on its own. It’s crazy to think that just a couple of weeks ago, this wasn’t even a reality discussed in any sort of detail.
The ferocity and rapid development of this situation is something leaving the world seeing stars, countries closing borders, mass panic buying of loo roll and pasta, an incredible NHS working day and night to combat the deadly disease, our most vulnerable put at severe risk.
For Scottish football, at least in my mind, this will have an effect for years to come. It will lead to historic decisions being made, tough choices and clubs having to rally up all the resilience they can muster.
Wee small things have already started cropping up. Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows commended a fan last night for donating what would have been his ticket money for the season to the club’s fan ownership group, the Well Society.
Kilmarnock and Hibs have donated unused food from what would have been matchday operations to charities dealing with the vulnerable. Reports have circulated that Albion Rovers players and staff will relinquish their wages in order to ease financial burden the Rovers may face.
With no football to report on, how sports journalism will change and adapt to this as a whole will be extremely interesting. Will we enter a clickbait realm online where publications fight for the decreasing ad revenue?
It’s certainly going to become tougher. The digital age has created hardships but a lack of weekly news conferences and games only serve to heighten the challenge. Initial fallout from the SPFL’s suspension will keep things ticking short-term, but long-term, how do you report sports news when there is no news to cover?
Who knows how this pandemic will leave us all. It’s already bookmarked its place in history as a massive event in the modern world, we’re too early into all this to discover what fate it has in store for Scottish football.
In the meantime, we follow medical experts and continue to remain vigilant during these testing times. It could be several weeks until we hit the peak of all this, looking out for each other, supporting the NHS and protecting our most vulnerable is about all we can do.