In case you weren’t aware, Leicester City are set to resume their 2019/20 campaign on Saturday morning at Vicarage Road. You’d think that the return of football would be met with unmitigated joy, but mitigation abounds in this particular instance. Here are three reasons we’re thrilled to see the club back in action and three reasons we’re not so chuffed.
I figured we’d start with the obvious one. If you’re reading this, there is at least a fighting chance that you enjoy football. We’ve all missed it. My weekends have been a lot more like my weekdays without footie to look forward to.
This is as long as I’ve gone without the sport in over 20 years. During those long summer breaks, at least we had internationals to look forward to. We had transfer rumours. We had new kits to buy. For the last three months, we’ve had...nothing. Well, there’s been the Bundesliga, but, for me, that might as well be American football.
I’m not going to say that my life had no meaning without football, but if it did, that meaning completely escaped me. I’m excited to be talking about it again.
Not Excited: Football without fans is barely football at all
But, really, is this going to be football? Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I’ve been able to stream Leicester youth matches live for several years now and, while they are interesting, the fact that they are played in near silence had a massive impact on the experience.
Will the broadcasts be able to make up for this? I’ve heard they’re going to use simulated crowd noise, which might bring the level of excitement up to something significantly shy of watching two strangers play FIFA 20. Will they try to fill the stadiums with cardboard “fans”?
Excited: A special season deserves a proper ending
This campaign has been a special one. It would have been a shame for it to end in a dull, 5th round FA Cup match against Birmingham City.
In case you’ve forgotten, the season was going pretty well. Leicester City ̶w̶e̶r̶e̶ are in the midst of their second-best Premier League campaign. With only nine matches remaining, the Foxes sit 3rd on the table on 53 points. That’s 8 points ahead of Manchester United for the final Champions League spot.
To have called time on the season and declared it finished would have robbed the fans of the chance to see this team see out the season, perhaps win the FA Cup, and give them the applause they deserve. OK, so maybe the fans won’t get to do that anyway, but I’m sure they’ll pipe some over the Tannoy on 26 July.
Not Excited: We like the table just the way it is
Would you take the bird in the hand or the two in the bush? That’s the difference between declaring the season over now versus trying to finish it under less-than-ideal circumstances this summer.
Leicester City currently sit 3rd on the table and Jamie Vardy is in line for the Golden Boot. As much as it pains me to say it, this is likely his last bite at that particular apple. Contrary to all appearances, he is not getting younger. I’ve checked. Trust me on this.
I would really like for Jamie Vardy to win the Golden Boot, and the club really needs Champions League football next season. Outside of holdovers Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel, the starting XI is younger at every position than the squad that won the league in 2015/16.
This bodes well for our future, but it also means that we have a roster full of players who have proven that they can compete at the top level at a very young age. The Chilwell-to-Chelsea rumours won’t go away and we’re now hearing that Manchester United are taking a long look at Wilfred Ndidi. Having Champions League football at the King Power next year would make it easier to hold on to these players.
Oh, and thanks to Jack Grealish (and click the link, you really want to read this one), Leicester will be resuming play without their best player. Ricardo Pereira’s knee injury won’t allow him to take part in the remainder of this season and some of the next. While I’m thrilled to see football return, it’s going to be a very nervy month or so to see if we can hold on to our place in Europe.
Excited: There is literally nothing else good happening right now
If you haven’t been reading the news, don’t. It’s all bad. We have pandemics, murder hornets, police brutality, and goodness-knows-what around the corner. You can’t read a newspaper*, watch the news, or do whatever verb applies to social media without seeing something that just breaks your heart or enrages your... rage ducts?
The only good news I’ve seen recently has been Marcus Rashford standing up and getting things done, receiving plaudits from Liverpool of all teams. This is some seriously end-of-times stuff when the scousers are praising a Man U player.
Remember what I said earlier about finding meaning in life? You won’t find that in football, but it can provide us with something that we need almost as badly: Something to look forward to. No matter how bad my Tuesday or Wednesday may be, knowing that there will be a match on Saturday gives me the next rung of the ladder to pull myself up and get through it.
Not Excited: It’s too soon and too dangerous
Here’s the problem: When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we had no effective treatments, no vaccine, and no sense of the long-term effects of the disease. Today, we have no effective treatments, no vaccine, and no sense of the long-term effects of the disease.
So why is the league restarting? Money, obviously. There are worse motivations and certainly none are more reliable, but it’s worth asking: Is this the right thing to do?
We’ve found the mortality rate of the disease to be lower than initially feared and that is good news indeed. But, we have also found that it spreads like mad, that high-effort activity tends to correlate with spreading, and that there is a very real risk of permanent lung damage even if you survive the disease.
For me, that wouldn’t be a big deal. I barely use my lungs as it is. For professional athletes, however, it’s a threat to, and likely the end of, their career. Is my seeing 9 matches this summer worth the risk that Youri Tielemans might contract a career-ending disease? There’s no way I can answer “yes” to that question.
So, it’s safe to say that we (and by “we”, I mean “I”) have mixed feelings about the Premier League restart. What’s your take? Is now the time, or is the league being reckless?
What do you think about the Premier League restart this week?
This poll is closed
Bring it! It’s time for football to return!
It’s too soon! The risk isn’t worth it and/or we shouldn’t be playing if the fans can’t participate!
* Online of course. Who am I, Admiral Byrd?