In the space of five days, the hopes and dreams of fans across the country were dashed. As the footballing associations across the country called for a halt to proceedings amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
On March 9 the Boris Johnson said there was ‘no rationale’ for cancelling sporting events in the UK. Fast forward three weeks and the Prime Minister has tested positive for the potentially deadly virus and has ordered there be a nationwide lockdown with people only being allowed to leave their homes for one element of exercise and for essential goods.
Before March 13 there where very few things that have ever prevented football matches from being played. In fact, only war has managed to stop thousands upon thousands of fans gathering to unite in one place behind one common goal in this country.
Just a day later that was all about to change, the weekend’s fixtures across the country where due to take place as normal, Liverpool with the chance to get one step closer to the promised land of a first Premier League trophy in thirty years, Leeds back to the Premier League and York City with the opportunity to take another step on the road to their return to the football league.
But, as news broke on Thursday that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for the potentially deadly virus the Premier Leagues hand had been forced and an emergency meeting a day later came to the inevitable conclusion that ultimately football was no longer important. There was now an acceptance that in the wake of such calamity, football, for once had to be put on hold.
As fixtures in the National League still went ahead that weekend there was a significant spike in attendances up and down the country. But, upon the announcement from the league on March 16 a spokesperson for York City told us “The players are obviously gutted they can’t play with it coming to a very important time in the season, but they understand the seriousness of the situation and as a club, we are aligned with the current National League guidance.”
Speaking on the effect this outbreak will have on clubs in the division the York City spokesperson said;
“I can’t speak for other clubs but at York City, we have closed Bootham Crescent and the training ground until further notice and upon return, they will have received a deep clean. The Chairman will be paying the wages as usual and will again be taking the shortfall due to limited money coming into the club during these uncertain times. He needs to be commended for that.”
Whilst clubs in the upper echelons of English football endure a break from the beautiful game some sides face the ever-growing threat of extinction as their reliance on matchday revenues is wiped away.
But sometimes we have to accept that despite our love for the beautiful game “football is the most important of the least important things” as Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp eloquently put it.