The continued lack of supporters inside football stadiums in England is beginning to take the heaviest of tolls.
The teams in the lower reaches of the football pyramid are the most at risk, and the longer that the situation goes on, the more chance there is of certain clubs going to the wall.
If nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus just how well clubs have been managed – or not – in a financial sense.
Match day revenues remain a core element of every club’s business plan, and it’s with that in mind that Norwich City director, Delia Smith, has written an open letter to Boris Johnson.
“I know what you are going through and how inexplicably difficult it all is,” it read on Norwich’s official website.
“And here am I, one more letter to read and one more plea for help. Sorry. The good news is I am not asking for money, and the second bit of good news is, what I am asking for is something very positive and uplifting, in the midst of these dark and gloomy times.
“Please, please can you make a decision to allow just a percentage of football supporters into the ground to watch games.
“Grown up logic tells us what even the scientists must agree with: temperature checks, with supporters two metres apart, hand sanitising, masks, and so much empty space, distancing and open air has to be perfectly safe, and what’s more it’s a far better option than six round a table watching a match inside. Channel Four news filmed this all happening at Carrow Road on September 19th. And it honestly worked like a dream.
“Looking ahead to the possibility and consequences of smaller clubs ceasing to exist, we need to remind ourselves that football is one of the last bastions of what it means to be community in contemporary life.
“How many times do we hear the words ‘stronger together’? It gives the young a sense of belonging, no need to join a gang. It also manages to transcend colour, racism, class and age.
“Clubs at the heart of communities are saving the government and the taxpayer some of the high costs of youth crime. Whilst the charitable Football Foundations working alongside the clubs make an enormous contribution to those in most need in the communities they serve. Again, saving the taxpayer. What we all need is good news, hope and what you could get is a whole stash of brownie points.
“England invented the beautiful game, which has become much more than that. An unsung gem that makes an enormous contribution to our society at no cost. Please Prime Minister, before the final whistle is blown, can we have our football back?”
At present, the ridiculous situation of cinema’s showing matches that supporters can watch indoors remains.
The Government have offered no logical explanation why those very same supporters, socially distanced, can’t see their teams in an outdoor stadium.
Before the footballing landscape is changed for good, Boris Johnson would do well to listen to the likes of Delia Smith.