Prem players, managers, staff and volunteers have worked wonders this season… but it’s been tarnished by ESL and VAR
IT has been a season we will all remember… and some may wish to forget.
In pure football terms, the players, the managers, the staff and volunteers have performed wonders during the pandemic.
As freedom beckons, here is my brief summary of a unique season.
At West Ham it has been thrilling and exceptional. Unhappily, our supporters have been forced to miss the consistent quality of live performance they have been waiting for.
No doubt in plenty of East London living rooms the noise has been gargantuan, drowning out television commentaries and soundtracks that early on was hilariously off-target, operated by a DJ on speed, it seemed.
The TV companies were doing what the authorities asked for. They provided your team’s every game in the Prem and many in the EFL — no complaint about high-quality production or the new rollover contracts.
The truth, however, is while for the millions of football nuts watching televised matches was great, it is not a substitute for actually being there.
Supporters have missed out on another thrilling season.
To a man or woman, high-class footballers have discovered that football without a crowd is an emptiness in their lives.
I must add that an emptiness in club bank accounts, too.
We all have to overcome that, and some sadly might fail. The players have proved this — put down a ball on the centre spot no matter the restrictions in daily lives, working in bubbles, tests and vaccines and they will perform as professionals.
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Whether the billionaires of the breakaway six were encouraged by nil stadium receipts or their greed for profits generally, the quickly aborted European Super League has created dark thoughts among the 14 clubs they considered inferior.
They must be shown that the price for disloyalty is steep although what form sanctions should take is for Uefa and the Premier League to decide.
I calculate Uefa’s initial fines amount to under £10million each. This is pathetically small and something much greater is surely merited. It’s a smack on the legs when it should be a painful spanking.
New champions Manchester City and Chelsea, both of whom had grave doubts before joining the ESL, reached the Champions League final after two hypnotic semi-finals have emphasised how their absence would have undermined our exceptional club football.
The season has been blotted by bad VAR incidents. It’s unlikely that any manager has escaped shocking verdicts on offsides, penalties or sendings off. VAR is a bigger offender than any player.
Crowds in limited numbers will be allowed for home matches from next Monday, unfortunately a few days late for the EFL which has been helped along by grants from the PL, furloughing and the hard work of staff and volunteers.
The leagues beyond are going to suffer greatly but our country is resourceful and the population helpful of their heroes.
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Again the Prem has come to the rescue with money needed and as a result, I’m confident most clubs will survive.
At the London Stadium and no doubt every other ground, we are waiting impatiently for the time when we can forget testing for the virus, avoiding bodily contact with friends and telling players not to hug and leap on the scorer until he collapses to the turf.
Over-the-top, yes, but soon to be utterly, joyfully permissible.
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