These are challenging times and Manchester City have today announced the suspension of the professional game until 4 April at the earliest.
Manchester City’s match which was planned to take place on Saturday against Burnley was looking increasingly unlikely as the last 24 hours went on.
Today confirmation was received that all professional football in England has been suspended until 4 April. This follows a meeting this morning between all the key stakeholders.
The reality was that the situation was looking untenable given that not only were players and managers diagnosed with coronavirus, but also others were in imposed periods of self isolation.
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Fans had been left to navigate a way through these unchartered waters themselves with many expressing a view that they would avoid all large crowds until the pandemic was over. Thankfully the announcement of the suspension of football has taken the anxiety away from fans.
It should also help to prevent any large scale assemblies taking place outside football stadia if games are taken place behind closed doors. The situation in Paris mid week where large numbers of Paris Saint Germain fans celebrated with the players after being locked out of the ground would not have gone unnoticed by the authorities.
Right now UEFA have also indicated a suspension of games next week. That will surely be followed by an announcement of a similar month long suspension after the UEFA stakeholders meet next Tuesday.
Right now all players and staff at Manchester City are self isolating and team training and media interactions are all cancelled. Guidance has been issued by the FA to clubs which suggests all player and public contact is limited at this point.
This will create a host of issues moving forward. Firstly games are unlikely to restart in April given the anticipated impact of the pandemic.
So any resumption of domestic leagues will not occur until government advice indicates it is safe to do so.
Secondly, the delaying of fixtures causes problems with agreed sponsorship deals and ultimately available prize money. This will impact upon the finances of all clubs, but perversely may be felt most by smaller clubs reliant upon the cash flow of match day receipts.
Thirdly, in the interim players will need to keep fit and there may be a delay between being given the greenlight to resume football and players being match fit to play.
Fourthly any delays beyond May could be difficult to sustain. Players will be out of contract and subsequently the sporting integrity of the competitions would be diminished.
Finally, and most importantly the coronavirus presents a real threat to public health and not all will survive the pandemic. In those stark terms, football does not matter.
Instead, it is most important to keep well and safe. Man City Square urges all our readers to follow the latest health and to look out for each other in the months ahead.