We are all anxiously awaiting the decisive news about how and when this season will finish being played out, with a view on next season too. So this week, I spoke with a few fans who gave their views on what they think will happen next. Today will feature @calumwilliams18 and @TheRobHarvey_
1 – What are your thoughts on how the EFL have handled the decisions due to the pandemic?
CW – The EFL have had to be reactive in the same way as businesses and authorities across the country have been in response to the pandemic, and we should remember their resources aren’t limitless. Having said that, there is a growing concern that a number of clubs, particularly those in League 1 and 2, are going to be hit hard by a lack of decision making. I feel there has also been a lack of transparency with regards to how the £50M package was to be shared back in March, with some suggesting Championship clubs would benefit more than clubs lower down. Whilst it may have been enough to cover matchday revenue for many clubs, it won’t have gone very far in covering wage bills. The recent directive suggesting teams should (but are not obligated to) defer player wages by up to 25% also in my opinion isn’t enough to help struggling clubs. Some big decisions are due sooner rather than later!
RH – I think the EFL have bumbled along like they usually do and are basing every decision on what someone else is doing (usually the Premier League). Whilst the communications are welcome, they aren’t exactly the most useful. I suppose they don’t have the overriding vote on things meaning it has to be this way, but at least we have some form of communication and idea on what next steps might look like.
2 – What do you feel is the best way to finish this season?
RH – The best way to finish this season is, unfortunately, going to have to be playing the games behind closed doors or to allow only ST holders to attend, with no away fans. This would have to be limited to 2-3,000 people too so would still impact your bigger teams like Sunderland in League One as an example. It is important the leagues are finished correctly to maintain the integrity of the competitions.
CW – In my opinion, to null and void the season entirely would undo a lot of hard work and investment made by clubs over the course of the season so far. For this reason, I think the remaining games should be played, and the season closed out properly. I think in the circumstances, despite fans being the heart and soul of any club, playing games behind closed doors with the option for fans to pay to stream (perhaps with free access for season ticket holders) may be the best option. This would allow for broadcasting obligations to be met, clubs to get at least some form of matchday revenue, and a fair end to the season. This is all provided lockdown restrictions have been eased by the end of May, and that players are willing to play and to be flexible with contracts. Rolling contracts may be necessary if games spill over to July, and sponsorship deals may need to be reviewed also, given that both of these would ordinarily terminate at the end of June. In summary, I’m keen for games to be completed rather than voiding the season, but it’s an unenviable task for the EFL to predict the extent of social distancing measures in a months time, and therefore to determine the best way forward…
3 – How do you think it will all pan out?
RH – I’m not sure how it will pan out, but hopefully if it is behind closed doors, Walsall can get on with it and adapt much quicker than others, then who knows, we could all be celebrating and Adebayo winner at Wembley from the comfort of our own living rooms whilst he’s celebrating with 90,000 red seats.
CW – Personally I think it will either be a null and void across all divisions, or a behind closed doors set up. I think ending the season as things stand would leave many frustrated, and ending on a points per game basis even more so! A major concern seems to be fulfilling broadcasting obligations, and a behind closed doors set up would allow for this provided games can be streamed, with the potential of giving clubs much needed cashflow injections through streaming revenues.
4 – What do you want to see happen with next season?
CW – In terms of next season, that really depends on the outcome of the current one! It may be that the start of next season needs to be pushed back to facilitate an extension of the transfer window and to allow clubs to get adequately prepared in terms of pre-season training regimes. Hopefully next season won’t be too affected and social distancing measures will have eased by the summer.
RH – I think that next season should be a full season and we should just crack on with it as soon as we possibly can, following the completion of this current season. Having the next two seasons start later on towards winter possibly wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway as we can get into sync ready for the disruption that could be caused by the Qatar 2022 World Cup being played in November / December.
5 – Finally, your top lockdown tip to stay sane?
RH – My top lockdown tip to stay sane (although I’m lucky enough to still be at work), is to plan your day. Make a list of everything you want to achieve for the following day and tick them off as you do them. This can help give you structure and something to focus on, making your day become more meaningful. Failing that, get some of your favourite music on and belt it out.
CW – This might sound very obvious, but stay hydrated! I work in an office and religiously drink 2/3 1L bottles of water a day at my desk. Working from home, I’ve found it all too easy to fall out of this routine, sometimes not drinking for hours on end! It’s vital we all stick to habits we would have been committed to in normal circumstances in any way possible.
Thanks to Calum and Rob for answering those, and offering up there opinions. We will be hearing more from you, the fans, over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out on the Twitter page for a chance to feature.