People’s hopes for ‘coming out’ of the pandemic are many: back to gainful employment; children’s education that seems assured and good quality (whatever it was before); freer circulation, so that friendships and family relationships can resume in the way that makes them feel more comfortable; socializing in different places; and more. In the area of socializing, many people had become accustomed to going outside their homes for entertainment, which included leisure trips, eating and drinking out, and attending sports events. That latter is one of the major gaps that many found hard to fill. If, like me, they were happy to watch reruns of sporting events, then were not too unhappy. But, many looked forward to going to watch or participate in sport on a regular basis.
France cancelled its season and declared Paris St. Germain champions (the first major European league to cancel, in late-April, as all major public functions would be cancelled till September).
Scotland cancelled its season and declared Glasgow Celtic champions, but many clubs in its premier league are in deep financial trouble.
The Netherlands cancelled its season in late-April and declared no champion in its top two divisions or any relegations or promotions. The cup final cannot be played, so there is no winner this season. It has been decided to place the ticket for the winner to the highest in the rankings, after the Champions League. So, the league leaders Ajax Amsterdam will directly go to the UEFA Champions League playoffs. AZ Alkmaar, who were in the second spot in the league table, will go to the Champions League qualifying phase. Feyenoord Rotterdam, the third placed club, will enter the UEFA Europa League’s group stage. PSV Eindhoven and Willem II Tilburg will advance to the Europa League’s second qualifying round.
At the professional levels, it is big business and mass entertainment. The business side has been put under enormous strain as public events have been cancelled. But, after over two months without the opportunities to perform, signs are that some major sports are going to resume in coming weeks. Amongst them, is professional football.
Actually, Korea and Germany have already resumed over the past couple of weeks, playing matches behind closed doors, with many forms of physical distancing being enforced and other health precautions evident amongst players and personnel.
The matches have been played in the eerie caverns of largely empty stadiums, but the competitions have resumed and the remaining issues of winning, losing and settling places can resume.
Denmark resumed on May 28 and had fans participate through a Zoom wall. FC Midtjylland, the league leader, plays its first game back on Saturday at home against AC Horsens and is planning a “drive-in” where at least 2,000 supporters can watch the game from inside their cars outside the team’s ground. Giant screens have been installed in the stadium’s parking lot and footage of the fans in their cars is set to be screened inside the arena.
English Premier League teams agreed to resume contact training and league games will resume on June 17. There are 92 matches still to play. All matches will take place behind closed doors and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport or Amazon Prime. In the UK, the BBC will show four free-to-air games for the first time some the Premier League began in 1992.
Sky Sports will also broadcast 64 matches, of which 25 free to air. All matches will be shown live and will be played behind closed doors.
The FA have now confirmed that the quarter-finals will take place over the weekend of 27-28 June.