Project Restart or Project Abandon? We know the Premier League and a majority of clubs want to play the remaining games of the season behind closed doors on neutral grounds starting in five or six weeks’ time. Indeed, if 14 of the 20 won’t vote for this, it’s very likely the season will be cancelled and 2019/2020 will simply not have happened.
So what are the pros and cons for playing these games in this way? Here’s seven arguments for and seven against…
* It’s football on the TV and we like football a lot. Some of us are so mad about football that we’d watch any football anywhere under any circumstances.
* It would raise the locked-down people’s spirits. Project Restart could be Project Reinvigorate.
* Watching games in this way will be a new experience. Hearing players swearing at each other and the referee will be hilarious.
* It would mean the season can be brought to a close and a line drawn under it. Liverpool will be crowned champions, European places settled and relegation defined. So whenever and wherever next season starts, we all know where we are.
* Games being played will give all the media outlets from radio to TV to printed media something to talk and write about and begin to attract advertising revenue again from increased traffic (which some websites close to our hearts would rather like, thanking you)
* Games being broadcast on TV means clubs won’t have to pay back any money to broadcasters, who in turn can pay out any remaining fees. With smaller clubs running out of money fast, this will bail them out for a few weeks.
* If it proves popular, holding the whole of next season behind closed doors will look more viable.
* It will be an awful product. Football without any crowd is sterile, bloodless and poor entertainment.
* Neutral grounds reduce home advantage. Results will thus be so warped as to feel invalid, especially to relegated teams.
* After the novelty wears off, very few will watch it because the public isn’t as desperate as the Premier League to see games being played. In turn this means broadcasters will not want to pay in full for this lite version of football, meaning it’ll deliver little financial rescue. It’ll also show how playing next season behind closed doors isn’t viable. Therefore this is only a very short-term fix, doing nothing but delaying the End Of Days.
* A lot of games are meaningless anyway, with little or, nothing riding on them. Will anyone want to watch Burnley playing Crystal Palace in Wolverhampton?
* One positive infection test will derail the whole schedule and make it all but unworkable.
* It isn’t safe enough for players or staff and paying for tests that could be bought by the state for front-line workers isn’t acceptable to some people. Some players will be scared for their and their families; health.
* It’s of zero use as an example for EFL clubs – all of whom rely on match-day revenue.
Which side are you on?