Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall reckons football is far down the pecking order right now as the country battles a global health pandemic.
Covid-19 has caused the indefinite hiatus of Scottish football. Suspended currently until April 30, SPFL action isn’t expected to restart for months after this date.
Thistle’s fight to survive in the Championship now seems irrelevant compared to the problems society now faces. McCall has been doing his bit to try and help supporters as he opened up on a candid visit to his mum.
“This has been challenging and every manager will say that,” he said. “The most difficult part of my week was going to Dumfries to see my 85-year-old mother and having to sit three metres apart from her. That puts into perspective the challenges of keeping your players ticking over.
“Some players get a reputation of being daft, but this is an extreme circumstance and they will have their own issues with their families. Be it young children, elderly relatives and so on. They realise the enormity of the situation.
“We have to get through it the best we can. I have spoken to some players and I will keep doing that. I am phoning supporters as well to have a chat with them and see how they are. You can’t get away from it, it is hard for everyone but it is everyone – not just football.
“Football can be huge in these circumstances, as can sport in general. We can play a role in it and we will. People underestimate how important sport is – and in this country, football. We have done a lot of stuff to help the fans.
“I phoned a supporter on Thursday and his daughter told me that he was thrilled at the call. We just chatted football. I phoned a guy today on his 73rd birthday and I’ve done a few things on my own street with the older ones. I’m not making myself out…everyone is doing it.
“But if you’re 73 and you’ve supported Thistle all your life and a player or a manager phones to wish you a happy birthday, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing. Little things like that will help him. Some clubs are worried about the financial future, but I feel in these situations, if you have a group of fans who boo and shout abuse, they are the ones who gather round when there is trouble.
“They are on the phones wanting to help and rally around. I think it is an irony that the unhappy ones are the ones wanting to help and it is fantastic.”
No restart in sight
In terms of the football, we’re all playing the waiting game. For now, SPFL action is suspended until April 30, but the reality many are accepting is that it’ll be far beyond that date before we see some football.
McCall reckons it’s best if all the remaining fixtures are played out – but it’s looking like an increasingly distant reality by the day. It’s something that the Jags boss is coming to accept himself.
“Everyone agrees that the best way is to finish the season and play all the games, no doubt about it,” he said. “But I can’t see how that can happen. I just cant see it happening. So someone needs to make a decision on how we move forward.
“But it’s incredibly tough decisions that people will have and it will be very hard for people not to be accused of self-interest. I don’t envy them. I have my feeling on what should happen. I genuinely don’t think any team should be worse off. I think finishing the league is the best solution but for the life of me I don’t see how that can happen.
“We’ve got nine players out-of-contract, we’ve got four loans. We’ve got players coming in on pre-contracts. You can’t finish the league with a different team. But it’s going to be a tough decision.
“The powers at be have a hard job in football and government. No matter what they decide it won’t get universal approval. This country has come through wars and got on our feet again. When is the question.”