The return of football is normally something I cannot wait for in the New Year, however this time I feel a little more apprehensive.
The season is due to restart on January 9 after a short winter break, but the halt in several of the scheduled matches in the men’s professional game has added some hesitancy as to whether a decision needs to be made to provide an extended period away from competitive games.
The two latest casualties have come in the Premier League with Manchester City having to go as far as to indefinitely closing their training facilities.
Fulham also have experienced a similar outbreak within their playing squad and saw their last fixture of 2020 postponed against Spurs only hours before kick-off.
The Premier League made a compelling statement during the week that a circuit-breaker would not be imminent, after the rumour of one became rife across media sources.
Professional sport has been given exemptions to continue with protocols being cleared by the government to allow the safe continuation of the game. However, it is clear that these parameters do not fully safeguard professional athletes from contracting and spreading Covid-19 as this latest surge in the virus continues to spread rapidly throughout the country.
Finding ways to continue with a new normal are very important and I understand the many purposes that sport, especially the elite level, offers to society. However, for the safety of the general public it seems that the FA will need to monitor things closely over the coming weeks.
The recent rise in the number of postponed fixtures in the men’s game comes immediately after there was a spike in cases across three London clubs in the Women’s Super League on the last weekend of scheduled matches before the break. It further resulted in a significant number of players that were affected having to self-isolate across the entire Christmas period.
Two weeks running! Disappointed to miss out on the clean sheet bonuses before Christmas.
I hope everyone stays safe in the weeks ahead and can still find joy and gratitude, despite the difficult times. 💝
Looking forward to being back in the NY. ❤️ https://t.co/UNtbsyzRqD
— Rachel Corsie (@RachelCorsie14) December 20, 2020
At Birmingham City, we have had a couple of isolated positive tests throughout the first half of the season. Elsewhere across the league, I think almost every team has had at least one player or staff member also test positive. Up until now, almost all fixtures have managed to be played due to the protocols in place being tightly adhered to.
My club have us returning in a staggered fashion tomorrow, that will begin with a Covid test followed by fitness testing in small groups – a fun start to 2021!
The testing and training over the next four days will continue in small socially-distanced groups, until two negative tests have been received in the first week back.
Morally, I feel torn over whether the return to competitive action is best in the immediate few days. While several other businesses and walks of life are halted, there is some consideration needed over whether it is safe for us to resume as we were before, especially as most of the country moves into Tier 4.