To play, or not to play? That is the question.

Howdy folks, hope everyone's keeping well. Before I start my ramble I'd like to wish Funkdoc and Joe good health. Both have been stricken down with Covid19 and thankfully both are well along the path to a full recovery but still with a way to go and I know we all wish them the best. For all our Red friends past and present I'd like to extend the same sentiment and hope that everyone and their loved ones are in good health.

Now, about this small matter of finishing the league.........

Will we, won't we, should we? As all will be aware each passing day brings various news headlines expressing all manor of changing, often conflicting views and information from various governing bodies, governments, and other interested parties. Attempting to sort the wheat from the chaff, the latest takeaway points are as follows.

  • The Mayor of Liverpool, who supports Everton, doesn't want the league restarted as he's worried it'll lead to mass gatherings of people coming together to celebrate when we win the title but does still think we should be awarded it.

  • Manchester City and Manchester Utd fans don't want the league restarted and don't think we should be awarded the title.

  • Liverpool fans in their majority do want the league restarted and rightly say either way we should be awarded the title, which of course we should.

  • UK government culture secretary Oliver Dowden is keen on finishing the league behind closed doors. So too are the Premier League and as of today this is under ongoing consideration.

  • Several other countries have abandoned their equivalent leagues, some awarding the title to the first placed team, some simply voiding the season altogether.

The last point has caused multiple issues ranging from UEFA threatening not to accept teams into next season's champions league, enraged clubs who are not happy with how they and others have been placed with games still left to play, and finally due to further problems with TV rights and revenues many clubs are now facing extreme financial difficulty.

So that all sounds best avoided and points to it being best for the season to reconvene and finish, right? If only it was that easy.......

The latest plans, under discussion at today's meeting(s) of Clubs, the Premier League, Government officials and health experts concluded with a shared view that they'd like to recommence but only when and if it's safe to do so. The plans themselves largely revolve around playing behind closed doors and mass testing.

There's some finer detail which on the face of it sounds good but I've been struck by what Sergio Aguero said this morning about the players being scared. At first I thought it was over the top but when I read further and he mentioned their families and children, I began to see things in a different light or at least with an added element. One I think is important to consider.

Probably there's no right or wrong answer and the situation is a fluid one with the priority being people's health. Is it really going to be possible though, even with testing and other measures, to say the players will not be putting themselves at undue risk and crucially a higher amount of risk to them and potentially their families than we'd expect others to face?

Unless lockdown measures have eased to the point the public have been advised it's safe to go out and play football then is it right to expect professional players to do so. My gut feeling is no, it's definitely not. If we've reached the level of football being safe again for all then of course I'm wholly in favour of us getting the dog damn league won on the pitch.

Due to C19's incubation period however it's entirely possible to pass a test but still have it. Even testing twice weekly as per the current planning is not enough to guarantee one asymptomatic person won't infect others and we know how serious the end result could be. In more normal jobs people are going to be asked to keep a distance and wear masks alongside other measures, none of which are possible in a close contact sport.

I'm as desperate to see the season played out as we all are and very much hope we reach a point where it's safe to do so. It would bring it's own health benefits by returning a much needed sense of normality and boosting morale. What we can't have though is one group risk their health to improve another's. Perhaps the best and most sensible thing to do is put the plans in place so we're ready to go and then hope like crazy it's safe enough to carry them out but whatever happens, I don't feel it's right to expect players to face higher health risks in their jobs than we'd expect of others.

What say you all, can this really be done safely, is there enough time or are we chasing too high an expectation in terms of logistics and risk.
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