Football breathes again - but not as we know it - sport opinion

Elite football is back; at least it is if you want to watch the German Bundesliga playing behind closed doors on television. As the Trekkies among you will be aware “It’s football, Jim, but not as we know it”.

Monday, 18th May 2020, 8:02 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 8:04 am

Whatever the ultimate success or failure of the German attempt to re-establish normality they have made a start. How to do that remains a real problem for our football administrators. As far as Crawley Town is concerned it appears that a resumption of the blighted 2019/2020 season is not on the cards.

A majority of League Two clubs, which included the Reds, recently agreed that the season should be terminated including settling promotion issues.

A general view inside the stadium during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on May 16, 2020. The Bundesliga and Second Bundesliga is the first professional league to resume the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All matches until the end of the season will be played behind closed doors. (Photo by Heinz Buese/Pool via Getty Images)

The preferred option would be by employing a weighted points per game method and would include play offs in the traditional fashion. So far so good but they then queered their own pitch by suggesting there should be no relegation.

Whilst it is easy to recognise the untenable financial burden of staging the final matches behind closed doors and so support that choice, the blatant self interest displayed by ditching relegation will have cost the clubs the tacit support of many fans. It will also be less likely that the option is ratified by the EFL and the FA.

Promotion and relegation is an essential part of the football pyramid and its value is epitomised by the least competitive domestic league, namely the Scottish Premier League, which is the nearest to a closed shop you can find. The detrimental effect of such an unsporting domestic set up is made apparent by the continued decline of the Scottish national side.

There does not really need to be a resumption of matches in the Championship which could honestly be settled as a 37 game season but League One is problematic. The clubs from that tier failed to reach a consensus at their meeting which reveals the greater rewards that could be achieved and also the variable outcomes at top and bottom that might have been apparent at the end of normal time.

Competition is essential but in these testing financial times so is common sense when it comes to organisation. Following the recently suggested regionalisation of Leagues One and Two another idea has been proposed and that is for the combination on a regional basis of League Two and the National League.

I have to say I like that idea very much indeed. If it was introduced next season Crawley’s longest trip would be to Plymouth Argyle, but only if they had not been promoted. We could welcome the arrival of distant Barrow knowing we would only have to make that very long journey in the FA Cup Third Round, perhaps a likelihood occasioning long odds.

The Premier League and League One clubs have most at stake and they need to get things settled amongst themselves as soon as possible.