Dave Seddon’s Preston North End Press View: What the coming months may hold
Preston North End’s home defeat to Queens Park Rangers was only on March 7 but already that seems like a lifetime ago.
There were cheers for Daniel Johnson’s goal from the penalty spot which came in a pleasing first-half performance.
That gave way to the gnashing of teeth as North End served up a shocker of a display in the second 45 minutes and ended up losing 3-1 at Deepdale.
Oh to still be able to watch live football – to cheer, to moan, to debate, to analyse.
Football in the EFL and Premier League shutdown on Friday the 13th, non-league following that path at the start of this week.
It will come back. When, we don’t know. Let’s try and get on top of coronavirus first, as horrible an opponent the world has faced for a good while.
Things have moved quickly in the world of competitive sport haven’t they?
It was only a week last Thursday that North End manager Alex Neil at his pre-match press conference spoke on the subject of favouring a shutdown instead of games being played behind closed doors.
Other managers spoke along similar lines and by last Friday morning, the games up to April 3 had been postponed.
By Thursday this week, that return date had been pushed to April 30 and in all likelihood a ball won’t be kicked on the weekend that follows.
Football and its supporters are taking this seriously, across the board the shutdown was seen as the best thing to do.
The fact that the Government has since encouraged social distancing, shows the FA and Premier League called it right, as have other sports.
Not that the decision to stop playing has dampened the enthusiasm to get the game up and running when the time is right to do so.
Restarting is going to take a lot of planning, it won’t just happen in the blink of an eye.
Hence a lot of phone calls, conference calls and talk behind the scenes.
Health will be the driving force of when matches start again, there can’t be any other way.
It’s not callous in any shape or form that football is getting ideas together and trying to plan.
Like any business they have to try and be in the best shape possible for when we get on the other side on this pandemic.
Difficult times are ahead but there will come a time when life gets back to some kind of normality.
We are looking at summer football, with there being such a strong determination to play the season to a finish.
There were a couple of isolated calls, soon after the shutdown, for the season to finish as it is now.
Those not surprisingly came from those connected with clubs hovering in and around the Premier League relegation zone, their plan so conveniently involving the scrapping of relegation.
Fortunately the majority have a different outlook and believe the full fixture list has to run to a finish.
If it does get going in May, June or July, it will be interesting to see how summer football is received.
Finances might mean crowds can’t flock back to the ground straight away.
Indeed, there might be a situation where the season resumes behind closed doors to start with before a gradual return to normality.
That’s just guesswork on my part and it will depend on the situation with mass gatherings and social distancing at the time. Finishing later – there was the good sense to scrub the June 1 finish rule for this year – will obviously have a knock-on effect for next season, so too the transfer market and contracts.
These are unprecedented times, so to stick with convention is a non-starter.
Players might have to accept a shorter holiday between the eventual end of this season and the start of next.
The transfer window will have a different deadline and any players whose contracts are up at the end of June might be needed to stay on longer to complete the season.
Naturally the 2020/21 campaign will have to start later and there has to be some compromise to fit a full season into a shorter timescale.
If it doesn’t start until mid September for example,it still has to finish in time for June 2021 when the Euros have been delayed to.
Do you drop one of the cup competitions for a season to free up space for league games?
That would seem the sensible option to me. It would in all likelihood be the League Cup, a competition I like but one we can manage without for a year.
Premier League games might have to clash with weeks when the Champions League is being played, something which UEFA frown on.
Such sacrifices will have to be made though, to ensure a proper finish to this season.
That is where the focus has to be, it has to be trained on 2019/20.
Adapting an old football cliché, take one season at a time.
Things might be strange to start with but normality will return…back to cheering and complaining.