What do football fans do with the season on hold?

It’s funny isn’t it, how integral something that supposed to be a past-time or a hobby can become? All sport is just a form of physical exercise with more objectives than simply the number of reps or sets you do. And hey, if you get a major kick out of what you are able to achieve in that setting then more power to you. But when it’s team sports, they become part of your daily life and schedule. I am not kidding when I say I have worked out what the date is by working backwards from when I know Chelsea are playing. Sport can imbed itself into our everyday schedule.

With the suspension of pretty much all sport for the time being, our weekends are feeling rather bare. Liverpool could have won the title by now, Chelsea might be into the FA Cup semi finals and out of the Champions League. But that has to be pushed aside as the world fights against coronavirus. It simply is not feasible for any sporting event to be going ahead right now as if nothing has happened. While having events that could take people’s minds off the current situation might be beneficial in terms of lifting morale, it would be hugely irresponsible given how the virus is spread. Having stadiums full of people would be far too much of a risk of spreading the virus. And now, because a minority of people didn’t want to follow the guidelines or just thought it wouldn’t affect them, we have a nationwide lockdown.

But the lack of really any sport whatsoever has got me thinking about how much a part of our week it becomes. I work Wednesday through to Sunday, so I’m in work at the time the weekend’s football has kicked off. However when I’m on a break or have a moment in the warehouse, I’ll check the scores to see what’s happening. But given that the fixtures aren’t taking place at the moment, that isn’t something that I can do. What’s particularly frustrating about that is that the season was entering a crucial phase. The title was pretty much decided but there was still a hard fight to be had for the Champions League and Europa League places. The relegation battle was set to go right down to the wire as well. Football may return sooner than the pandemic passes, if the circumstances allow, by staging the games behind closed doors. The fans at stadiums make football what it is. Matches are lifeless without them there. However, according to the deputy chief-executive of the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA), more and more players are realising that holding games behind closed doors is likely to be the only way to fulfill the fixture list and secure their salaries, which are largely funded by the extremely lucrative television contracts the Premier League has around the world.

Saturday and Sunday are the traditional football days of not just England but most of the world. While the season is on hold for very good reasons, it is rather jarring not to have it there to take your mind away from whatever you might have going on in your life for those 90 minutes when you can either be taken to the heights of ecstacy or the depths of misery by what happens when 22 grown men kick a ball around and run after it. Sport can be a wonderful distraction from everyday life. But with it temporarily gone, we must now find something else to engage our minds and interests. With many of us now in lockdown, now is the time to read that book you’ve been meaning to. Or catch up on that TV series you always meant to watch. But whatever it is, please stay safe. Football will return in time. So it might behoove you to make sure you’re still here when it does.

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