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A socially distanced Fever Pitch, Liverpool?

OPINION: If football resumes too soon, the Premier League’s runaway leaders might not get the fairytale celebrations enjoyed by Arsenal

01 May, 2020 — By Richard Osley

WE will all have our own ways of coping with lockdown: baking sourdough, learning Mandarin, plotting the downfall of Tom Nook, or, like me, watching Fever Pitch over and over again.

It’s a double-edged sword, though.

The fairytale ending of Arsenal winning the league and the massive party which followed outside Highbury is emotional to the point that for a second it’s OK to like the Van Morrison soundtrack.

You wish you could timewarp there, but then, right now, you don’t. All that hugging; shared beer cans; spit flying out of the sidemouths of hoarse men; being outside.

If the worst predictions of the current crisis are true, survivors won’t be able to do that until 2022, by which time we will all have forgotten what it’s like not to socially distance and the world will be so destitute that the years you’ve spent worrying about whether or not your club is gonna win the cup will seem like its own mad, lost era.

These are fairly terrifying times, and yet if you turn to the back pages you might get the idea that everybody wants to know when the Premier League will return.

This is surely based on the impossible idea that it would return exactly as it was.

But while Arsenal versus Norwich City seemed like a nice, breezy day out a few weeks ago, before the pandemic hit, it’s not such a dead cert that everybody would be rushing to the gates if it was permitted now.

After all, it’s only 10 days since a government scientific adviser said it was “an interesting hypothesis” that Liverpool’s match against Atletico Madrid, just before everything was locked up, could have led to more cases of the coronavirus.

But no, from the media coverage, you’d think we all want football BACK NOW, and that the nation needs the Premier League more than a vaccine.

Are we really that desperate for it to rush back if it means closed-door matches and cancelled fixtures as soon as one member of a club’s staff starts showing symptoms?

The most exuberant Liverpool fans, desperate for those two wins to clinch the championship, may say “yes, and bring it on”.

But surely it’s not anybody’s dream to finalise the title in an empty stadium and then have a long wait before they can enjoy a Fever Pitch moment of their own.

They’ve waited 30 years, a few more months surely can’t hurt.

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