Life, not as we know it

Bayern players train as the Bundesliga nears a return this month.
Bayern players train as the Bundesliga nears a return this month. / Reuters
  • Completing the football season will be complex, but far less complex than not finishing it

So, the call has gone out: "Let's get the band back together".

La Liga's players are tuning up again with the intention of finishing off the season and providing some much-needed entertainment.

Of course, health comes absolutely above anything else and the authorities have made it clear that the process will be phased from individual training, eventually reaching a group of 14 before competitive matches will take place behind closed doors.

Is it right? That's (quite literally) the billion-euro question. La Liga bosses say it will mean only 300 million euros is lost instead.

Completing the season is complex, but far less complex than not completing the season. There have been complaints from some teams around Europe that the season should be scrapped but most of these tend to be just above the relegation zone. End it now and broadcasting agreements, sponsorship deals and even player contracts will be broken and potentially voided.

It could be argued that seeing footballers expressing themselves in the fresh air is unfair on the rest of society, but life must go on, if preserving life remains the number one priority. Most industries will be back to some functionality by July; it's just football receiving daily scrutiny.

In some ways it will be a public service; we're all running out of boxsets and Netflix series to watch and something live - other than the news - will be welcomed. It also goes well beyond the players and coaches. What about the physio, masseur, person who retrieves the ball, first aid team, bus drivers, hotel staff, catering? The list is long.

Care must be taken, of course. On the day of my last commentary before lockdown, the whole broadcasting kit was thoroughly disinfected, and we were all keeping a respectful distance.

However, when there was a slight issue with the microphone the technician grabbed it and immediately started shouting "one, two, one two...". He was horrified when he realised that his old habit was potentially health-harming.

So, it looks like play will resume after a short spell of compromised training sessions, players responsible for washing their own kit and making their own food (although I suspect they'll cheat and enlist help).

There will be a football fest with 11 La Liga games per team to be scheduled before the end of July. The exception will be the Copa del Rey final which is going to be held back as it's a historic all-Basque meeting between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao. The downside for the clubs is they'll forsake the Europa League place by delaying the game.

It's going to be odd without fans inside the stadia - and presumably coaches keeping their distance from the fourth official. Even the goal celebrations will be reinvented to maybe just an appreciative nod of the head.

To coin a phrase, "It's life, captain, but not as we know it."