The issues football must address before we kick-off - Sue Smith

When it comes to the resumption of football, we all just have to wait and see.

No football allowed.

I can see positives for people’s mental well-being, signalling a return to some sort of normality.

As fans, we want to see what is going to happen with this season – are Leeds United going up? Are Rotherham United? Can Sheffield United qualify for Europe? Could Barnsley pull off another great escape? Would Hull City, Middlesbrough or Huddersfield Town get dragged down if they did?

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But it all pales into insignificance when you are talking about people’s lives.

Sheffield United players training before lockdown.

There will be footballers desperate to get playing again because it is all they know, and what they are training for during lockdown. Others will have fears. Even FIFA’s medical experts cannot seem to agree. The last thing we want is to just rush back because of finances and legal issues. These are the issues I would want settling before pulling my boots on again.

Everyone involved in a game is tested – but only after frontline workers

It would be really wrong of football to come back before frontline NHS and care workers have the testing kits they need.

At the moment you are worried any time you go into a place where there are a lot of people, and contact is unavoidable in football.

Testing everyone twice a week is a sensible precaution.

Players are quarantined between matches

I would want to be away from my family for however long it takes to play the matches so if anything goes around, it stays within that bubble.

People might think it is easy for me to say now I no longer play, but it would be the same for those of us who work in the media. I would not be able to live with myself if I passed the virus on to an elderly relative.

Tell players the structure as soon as possible

There have been so many theories and suggestions over the last few weeks about how, when and where matches could be played, it must be confusing for the players.

I like to be organised so when the time is right and decisions are made, I would want clear guidance on when individual training will resume (as it already has done for Sheffield United and others), then group sessions, and how long I would have to get physically and mentally right for the restart.

Minimum two to three weeks’ pre-season

I am keeping fit ready for the day I can play five-a-side again, so if I was still a professional I would be ticking over aerobically during lockdown – not that the clubs will have left them with any choice.

But it is not the same as playing again and doing the drills you just cannot on your own, so the players will need time for that. Two to three weeks should be fine. Even after that, we cannot expect them to be absolutely flying in the first game and there will be mistakes.

Maximum two matches a week

People will want to squeeze the rest of 2019-20 in as quickly as possible so next season is not delayed longer than needed.

There will certainly be older players and some in non-league who can tell you about playing far more often than twice a week. When I was younger I would think nothing of it, but players need time to recover because top-level football is so intense and played at such high speeds.

We do not want the standard to suffer.

Clear break between seasons

Physically and mentally, I would have no problem if one season ended on a Saturday and the next one began the following weekend after such a long lay-off but the game will need to pause.

Clubs will be having so many meetings to decide which players they want next season but need time to complete deals. Those at either end of the table will need two lists and it is hard to plan financially even for those pretty confident of what division they will be in. Out-of-contract players need time to find new clubs and anyone who is transferred will have to adapt to new coaches, team-mates and surroundings.

It needs to feel like the end of one timescale and the start of another but how long the turnaround should be is a decision for administrators, not the players.

Contract issues to be resolved

Over 1,000 Football League players are said to be out of contract by the end of June. Others are on loan until then.

What if we run into July?

I would like to think I would want to finish the season off with my club, but thankfully I have never been in that position.

Hopefully those without anything lined up see it as a chance to put themselves in the shop window but some might feel bitter their clubs are not keeping them, and will have to understand why.

Experts give the all clear

Most importantly, you want somebody in authority to reassure you playing football again will be safe.

We can only go back when the Government and scientists say we can. Until then, stay safe, everyone.

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