Sensible heads needed to save the season

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FOOTBALL

by Paul Kennedy

The Brunel Building in the heart of London is a truly spectacular piece of architecture.

Completed just two years ago, the building takes both its name and its inspiration from the renowned and influential Victorian civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

In its shadows are many other examples of his rich industrial engineering legacy, including Paddington Station.

Among the many companies inside the 22,500sq.m workspace, is the Premier League, and this week, and one suspects in the weeks to come, the 191 staff employed there will be surely rushed off their feet.

COVID CONCERNS: New Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick wants his team’s match against Brighton on Saturday postponed. AFP/VNA Photo

Right now, the United Kingdom is on the cusp of being overcome by a tidal wave of Omicron, the latest strain of coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe.

Aside from the prospect of Christmas being cancelled, there is also major concerns over the continuation of the Premier League.

Brighton’s scheduled meeting with Tottenham on Sunday was postponed due to a COVID outbreak at the north London club, while Brentford versus Manchester United and Watford’s trip to Burnley were called off in similar circumstances on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Requests for more postponements are coming in thick and fast to the Premier League. Manchester United are reportedly keen for their game on Saturday against Brighton to also be put on hold.

I fear, as politicians in the UK are quickly running out of letters in the alphabet to name their next plan of attack, that the only sensible thing to do would be to blow the whistle on football matches for the foreseeable future.

The new normal is proving to be a difficult state of mind to grasp.

Fans at recent games have complained of chaos at certain stadiums as they try to prove on entry they have been jabbed, double jabbed and jabbed again.

Take a look around the crowd at fixtures this week, and you’ll be hard pushed to find that many supporters wearing masks.

In years gone by, viruses, bugs and illness have always been a problem within football squads, and teams were forced to grin and bear it, and carry on regardless with whatever players they had available that hadn’t picked up that particularly form of the lurgy.

But this time around things are different, coronavirus can be far more serious than just a case of a dicky tummy.

Two seasons ago, when Liverpool won the league for the first time in more than 30 years, it should have been a joyous occasion for me, instead it felt more of a damp squib.

Winning that title was an amazing achievement, but to do so in front of zero fans kind of poured cold water on what should have been the greatest night of my life.

And the season after that, well the less said the better. Playing in front of empty stadiums for both Premier League and European competitions was as dull as dish water.

It’s can’t happen again, so the Premier League, in their snazzy new office on Canalside Walk, London W2, have some serious decisions to make.

They can either pull the plug, for now, and suspend matches until Omicron eases, or they can start to play in soulless, empty grounds until things get better.

I hope they choose the former. Put the league, and all subsequent competitions on hold, and hope beyond hope that this current strain of COVID can be somewhat contained in the not so distant future. VNS

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