Covid-19 is cruelly indiscriminate. The Olympics are not immune, neither is football.
Football is only, as Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti put it, “the most important of the unimportant things” but genuinely important things hang on it – livelihoods, and not only of those who work in it.
Leeds United’s players made a magnificent gesture, deferring wages to protect “the family” around them. It might not be the best way for every club.
Like other businesses, some are furloughing staff or imposing pay cuts. Barnet put around 60 non-playing employees on notice of redundancy.
“We’re in a fortunate position that we’re not part of the country that’s worrying about the financial side of things,” said Sheffield United’s Oliver Norwood. Others further down football’s foodchain cannot say the same.
Even at the top end, clubs operate on such fine margins with the thought of Sky’s lawyers enquiring what the Premier League plans to do about its lack of football must send shivers down spines. The temptation is for everyone to fight their own corner, but total victory means big losers elsewhere.
Sheffield United do not exactly know what they are fighting for.
We cannot say if their seventh position in the Premier League will qualify them for a first European campaign because of uncertainty about whether Manchester City could request their UEFA ban is “stayed” until an appeal. It removes an accusation of vested interests.
The Blades showed class by refusing to join the rest of City’s top-10 rivals in writing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport demanding they be kept out of next season’s Champions League regardless of whether there is time to appeal their financial fair play punishment.
Barnsley’s Alex Mowatt told The Yorkshire Post he would rather the season was not declared null and void, saving his club from relegation.
One would hope everyone could see the bigger picture but it must be difficult not looking after your club’s best interests when secretaries and receptionists depend on it.
The instant squabbling over voiding the season below Conference North/South level showed unanimity will be impossible.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
There is one thing football should agree on, though.
“Whatever you do during this period, try to come out of it a one per cent better person,” urged Huddersfield Town manager Danny Cowley.
That should be football’s aim, only more than just one per cent.
Outraged at being denied promotion, chairman Geoff Thompson said Northern Premier League club South Shields budgeted for it. Having visited Mariners Park, I know they are ambitious, but in a gloriously unpredictable sport that is reckless.
While Sheffield Wednesday spend money they do not have, Mowatt’s Barnsley suffer for not spending enough.
The last few weeks has reminded us all how much we need one another, and our common sense. Football is not immune to that either.