Opinion: Restart the season? It’s time to wake up

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Toby Alderweireld
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

One player. 

That’s how many it would take to derail a restart to the season. 

One player.

I am not a doctor, nor do I in any way hold myself out to possess some knowledge of the coronavirus outside of the public domain, but even I can see the rationale for restarting the season is flawed. 

Come, gather round. Indulge me a moment, if you will.

One player.

One player, gets the virus. How and when is he going to be tested? Before training restarts, and then…..when? Before every game? Before every training session? Before every team meeting? 

Quite simply, it needs to be every single one of those. He needs to be tested before every meeting, every training session, and every game. He needs to be tested in isolation, by people who will not themselves come into contact with any other players. He needs to be tested so frequently because what happens if he isn’t and he has the virus? How many people does he infect? During the meeting, during training, during the game when he is in the box surrounded by players in the 85th minute of the game and he is sweating, breathing hard, and literally using his body against the bodies of other players?

Because if one player gets infected, how many other players in his team does he infect before the team can no longer operate? How much of a risk is too great a risk? 

Perhaps the player will be isolating during this time, but will all of the people he comes into contact with be clean? His wife or partner? His children? The people he gets food from? Who will be sanitising the packages he receives? Who will be sanitising the food products, and who will be doing so for the other club players and staff?

The practicalities behind restarting appear to be based on some kind of hope that players won’t get sick? Or that their families won’t? Or that other club staff won’t? It is clear that precaution aside, luck will play an enormous role in any restart, continuation, and completion of the Premier League season with Liverpool clear leaders by Spbobet to still lift the trophy. It is clear that luck, this unknowable element, is the currency the Premier League will be trading in if they go ahead with a restart. 

Luck. 

Genuine honest to God Luck. 

Oh, and Hope. Can’t forget that logical and scientific addition. 

Luck and Hope: The dream team upon which to base any rational decision.

I appreciate there are commercial concerns at play here. I appreciate there are public morale boosting concerns. I appreciate there are complexities for future competitions which are sure as hell, a pain in the behind to resolve. I get that. I get all of it.

But come on. This is a virus which has killed (at the time of writing) over 30,000 people in the United Kingdom (Guardian) and over 280,000 people worldwide (FT). Yes, overwhelmingly people who are older and with pre-existing health conditions, but not exclusively. Younger people are dying as well. By all accounts Paulo Dybala was infected and struggled to shake this, and he is 27 year old world class player and athlete (Instagram). 

Footballers die too. Just ask the family of Marc-Vivien Foé (BBC). It happens. So what needs to happen here for people to realise this is reckless and unnecessary?!

I’m getting annoyed even as I write. So where are we….

Can the season restart? Yes, of course. It can restart tomorrow. Same as I can go back to work tomorrow. Same as everyone can. We can all forget this coronavirus thing if we want, but there are consequences to doing so (BBC):

People die. 

So until a mechanism can be secured for the safe return of players, should this talk of a restart really be worthy of entertainment? I fear the practicalities might dictate the outcome rather than morality. 

Morality would suggest a restart now is to be avoided because people might be harmed. The practicalities might see too many players infected which renders the season impossible to complete anyway. 

Commercial concerns will ultimately win the day regardless of anything else. Let’s just hope that no more unnecessary lives are lost in this pursuit of inevitable futility.

Stay safe everyone.

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