Dubai: There seems to be no end in sight for the disruptions to the football schedule in Italy thanks concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
Following the postponement of 10 matches over the past two weekends and a host of others played in empty stadiums, it has been announced that Milanese football fans will not be allowed to travel to attend the Italian Cup semi-final match between Juventus and AC on Wednesday in Turin as part of the precautions.
The second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals will be off limits to residents of the regions of Lombardy, which contains Milan — one of the regions hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus.
Now, there are rumblings in England that similar movements in the Premier League are afoot after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will close schools and cancel public events — including sports — if needed to protect the public.
“It is highly likely coronavirus will spread more widely in the coming days and weeks, which is why we’re making every possible preparation,” Johnson told the BBC. “If the virus should spread, we are ready to take necessary steps to contain it and protect the most vulnerable.”
Quite what all this would mean in the world of England’s beloved footy is obviously unclear, what is apparent is that a backlog of fixtures would result in scheduling chaos, with teams struggling to play catch-up games at later dates. That will ultimately result in too many matches in too little time, what with many clubs still involved in European and FA Cup matches too.
Playing matches behind closed doors is also an option, placing a ban on supporters attending games, but — while it is in the interest of public health — the majority of fans, clubs and cheque-writing sponsors would be against such a move.
Abandoning the league season altogether? No chance — the campaign is too far in to be scrapped, and on top of that, imagine the outcry across the red side of Liverpool should they be denied the title after 30 long years of hurt and such an imperious march to the top of the table this time around.
Public health is paramount, but Boris will need to tread very carefully on this one if he doesn’t want millions of football fans calling for his head before May.