I’ve said it all along that time is on our side when it comes to resuming the League Of Ireland season and I’m sticking to that. To me, this talk of getting football matches back as soon as possible and having games behind closed doors is a non runner. There’s now talk of streaming the games live but this won’t work either.
And I’ll tell you why.
I know since last Friday, there is a phased plan now in place but from a practical, and safety, point of view, I’m just not sure how we can carry this off.
First of all, the majority of the grounds can’t cater for streaming games live.
Streaming the games live won’t work
Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City and a few of the bigger ones are pushing for it but the smaller clubs are the complete opposite. I know Niall Quinn is trying to come up with new ideas and that there’s an untapped market there with streaming the games live. The problem is that most of the grounds won’t have the facilities to have three of four cameras to show the matches.
When you’re watching it on a live stream, with just one camera in the middle of the pitch, the quality isn’t going to be great. People are going to have to pay to watch these games and if the quality isn’t good enough, it’s not going to be a runner. People aren’t going to pay to watch a match with only one camera on site.
You will have a handful of supporters watching these matches to try help out their clubs but that’s not going to be enough. There’s also talk that the clubs will want to be compensated if these games are being streamed live and that the compensation will have to come from FIFA or UEFA.
I’m not so sure about that either.
It’s fine when RTE are showing one live game a week but having a game streamed live on the other six nights of the week? The quality is just not going to be good enough. I know the bigger clubs are pushing for this to happen because they want to get back up and running and they probably could cater for it. But the likes of Sligo Rovers, who would have better facilities than most, have said that they’re not playing behind closed doors.
Finn Harps have said the same. On that basis, it’s hard to see happening. By showing the games on these streams of poor quality, you’re giving people more ammunition to run the league down. That’s all from a practical point of view but then when you get into the whole safety element of it, that’s another story.
How are you going to do social distancing?
Keep your distance
How are you going to test all the players and get them all onto the pitch? Having them all in a dressing room and play a football match while maintaining social distancing. How’s that going to work?
That’s just not feasible.
I’ve said it already that the one advantage that the League Of Ireland has on every other country is that our season has only just started.
We’ve only played five games. I don’t see the rush in getting games back on when there’s still a major health and safety issue. I don’t see any reason why we can’t wait until September to resume things. At that stage, the phased plan will hopefully be well and truly over and we’ll be in a much better situation from the government and the health authorities.
We can play right through the winter and finish up the season in January or February. That means we still have time to get the season up and running next year as well. It’s a totally different argument in England because they’re three quarters of the way through their season but we’re only five games in.
It’s not a case of like for like between us and the Premier League. In our case, I also think that the clubs would be happy to hold off until September when everybody is in a much safer environment. For the sake of six weeks from late July or early August to restarting in September, we should just hold off.
The option is still there for playing a reduced season too. I know the FAI are trying to come up with different ideas to get things restarted and I miss it more than anybody. And I’m not trying to pour cold water on the ideas and the efforts in trying to get everything back as soon as possible either.
There are just so many variables and too many question marks in restarting the season early or behind closed doors. We can only resume when the time is right and September is perfect for a lot of reasons.