There is no doubt in my mind that the 2019-20 Premier League season is over. Done. Finished. Kaput. Not even the Liverpool-loving media can reverse this victory of nature over mankind. All that is left is for the money-men representing the clubs and the broadcasters to fight over far more meager spoils of the season than they originally projected. Corona is king…until a vaccine is found.
Despite the pandemic barely running its course in England, the Premier League Ltd solemnly declared, after a meeting earlier today with their shareholders, that they decided to suspend the league until April 3rd. This is the same money-grubbing organization that up to last Wednesday was still intent on going ahead with Manchester City vs Arsenal despite glaring evidence of a raging epidemic making its away from Europe across the English Channel.
Meanwhile, an ocean away from the center of the disease, many professional leagues in America was suspending their competitions. Apparently similar drastic actions and disruptions in nearby Italy did not count for much. In fact the so-called “responsible” body for top-flight professional football in England was still intent on putting at risk the lives of players, coaches, officials and, most significantly, that of their paying customers.
It took the a positive diagnosis of the virus infecting Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta (and rumors of Mesut Ozil) for the league to postpone Wednesday’s game. Even then they kept dithering about whether the Brighton-Arsenal and other Saturday games would continue. On Thursday I had to tweet the following:
Am I the only concerned fan? #BRIARS How much longer can the greedy Premier League continue to literally risk the lives of football fans by insisting on playing matches in front of crowds spreading the #coronavirus?
— Shotta UnCensored (@shotta_gooner) March 12, 2020
I know full well that my little missive was a drop in the ocean; in the twitter-verse Likes and Retweets are the measure of importance, not the relevance and timeliness of postings. But I had become incensed and frustrated with the PL’s absolute lack of leadership over a critical life and death matter. Meanwhile most football fans were making memes and generally taking the mickey out of the Scousers and their media buddies after Liverpool were dumped out of the Champions League by Atleti.
Ignorance by the Premier League
While we the common layman were originally misled to believe that it was merely a Chinese problem and that those “wicked” communists were over-reacting by shutting down and quarantining entire cities No such ignorance should be excused by leaders of one of the largest and wealthiest football franchises in the world.
Yet the Premier League Ltd has been as neglectful as most of our governments. Even a correspondent for the New York Times admitted the following:
[F]or weeks now, the attitude toward the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and much of Europe has been bizarrely reactive, if not outright passive — or that the governments in those regions have let pass their best chance to contain the virus’s spread. Having seen a kind of initial denial play out already in China, I feel a sense of déjà vu. But while China had to contend with a nasty, sudden surprise, governments in the West have been on notice for weeks.
It’s as if China’s experience hadn’t given Western countries a warning of the perils of inaction. Instead, many governments seem to have imitated some of the worst measures China put in place, while often turning a blind eye to the best of them, or its successes.
And while some in the West fixated on how China’s system failed to stem the outbreak at first, they were ignoring the aspects of it that worked. There’s nothing authoritarian about checking temperatures at airports, enforcing social distancing or offering free medical care to anyone with Covid-19.
Look closer home, within football, for evidence of similar arrogance and neglect. After seeing the chairman of Olympiacos Football Club come down with coronavirus shortly after their match versus Arsenal, including video of him walking down the steps from the executive seats unto the pitch and mixing with players and staff from both teams, yet the Premier League bosses and even the AFC execs did not seem concerned. The West Ham match went ahead after an advisory that players must no longer shake hands, a patent example of virtue signaling that is designed for public relations rather than to seriously stop the spread of the disease.
Now the league is suggesting they may be able to resume the competition in three weeks, i.e. on or around April 3rd. I wonder what “high grade” weed those present at the meeting were smoking.
Clearly they haven’t learnt anything from the Chinese experience or from the scientific data that almost every government is now getting from their medial and epidemiological experts. It took the Chinese at least two months of drastic action to contain the disease to the point where today they are only reporting about 100 new cases per day.
Underestimating the pandemic
Meanwhile in England there still appears to be serious underestimation of the “pandemic” as it was recently classified by the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on the science it has a much longer run and exponential growth ahead unless drastic action is taken by the government. It is foolish naiveté on the part of the PL to think they may be able to resume the League after a relatively short break.
Again, it is the New York Times, in their zeal to go after President Trump, who unearthed the following forecast by officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Between 160 million and 214 million people in the U.S. could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to one projection. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.
And, the calculations based on the C.D.C.’s scenarios suggested, 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. Fewer than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.
Only a fool would think that England will be proportionately different. In fact, given the somewhat relaxed approach of the Johnson government when compared to Trump, much less the Chinese, I expect a drastic spread of the disease and substantially more deaths. Under this scenario I cannot see a resumption of the League. It is a write off.
That by the way is a good thing as many fans will ultimately not be infected by the disease having avoided being cheek and jowl in various stadia or pubs, i.e. wherever we usually gather to watch our favorite team. That applies to not only the English but to all fans (including my readers) from all over the world.
Keep your social distance and maybe we will all meet on the other side. Nuff respect.