By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings
The ‘R’ factor – not the X-Factor – has become the most talked about subject in our lives in recent weeks. ‘R’ representing the reproduction number used to determine the rate at which this dreaded virus could spread as we ease ourselves out of lockdown.
In football too the ‘R’ factor has become the main topic of conversation – only in this case it stands not only for ‘restart’ but also for ‘relegation’. Project Restart being the Premier League’s main objective in bringing the troubled 2019-2020 season to a conclusion.
While ‘relegation’, or at least the clubs most threatened with it, being portrayed as the bad guys – the ones standing steadfastly in the way of the league’s restart ambition.
But is it really the likes of ourselves, Norwich, Aston Villa, Watford, Bournemouth and Brighton – highlighted as the main villains in all this – that are really to blame for the stalemate in which we appear to find ourselves?
The Premier League appeared to nail their colours firmly to the mast early on by their insistence that football could only return by the use of neutral venues in which to play the remaining 92 league games, an aspiration that now appears to be dying in the water before their very eyes.
But shouldn’t the question be asked – did they actually consult on the plan before insisting it was the only one on the table? Did they talk to ALL the clubs in the Premier League to canvas opinion, or did they maybe just ‘run it by’ the favoured few. T and simply expect the others to fall into line.
Gary Neville recently stated: “…the big six and the powerhouses at the top will always be able to have that thumb pressed down on the others somehow, because they do carry the weight.” Well not this time, so it seems Gary.
Following yet another meeting on Monday, at which the ‘smaller’ clubs forcefully had their say, it’s now looking like the Premier League is having to backtrack. But can West Ham and the other five really be criticised and vilified for defending their corner? Standing up for themselves when there is so much at stake.
Or is the blame for the breakdown really at the door of the Premier League, for insisting on the unacceptable in the first place? Now it is looking more and more as if the new ‘R’ factor is going to represent ‘rethink’ – and what to do next.
More players are rightly and openly expressing their concerns over the well being of themselves – and ultimately their families – that a hurried resumption could bring. It looks to have been another factor the Premier League may have badly misjudged.
The options for actually playing football again this season are becoming fewer. With UEFA’s deadline date of 25th May looming large for a decision on whether or not the league intend to finish the season, maybe we are now not far from the moment when for football the ‘R’ factor loses its significance, and concerns switch to the ‘L’ factor – and Litigation takes centre stage as the powers that be consider what options are left for them.