As fans across the country look forward to the start of the 2020/21 football season, a leading academic from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has explored the importance of football during the Covid-19 pandemic and has called for a renewed perspective.
Dr Kevin Moore, a visiting Fellow at the International Football Institute (IFI), which is a partnership between UCLan and the National Football Museum, said the disruption caused by COVID-19 was an opportunity for fans to take a step back from the beautiful game to think about the real importance of life.
Published in the leading football journal, Soccer and Society, and entitled Football is not ‘a matter of life and death’. It is far less important than that, the paper compares the situation to the Second World War where football in England was stopped for seven years, far longer than the 100-days of football absence during the pandemic.
Commenting on the paper Kevin said: “To many fans now, there seems to be an obsessional, unhealthy importance about the game and I say this as a football fan myself. The current Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for us to gain a renewed perspective on football. It is just a game and we can easily live without it – if we have to.”
The paper discusses the debates surrounding the return of the Premier League, after the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested its restart would ‘lift the spirits of the nation’. It also touches on the controversies surrounding footballer’s wages and clubs furloughing their staff amidst a national crisis.
Kevin added: “Fans will want to go back to see live matches, but only if they feel safe – so many may not return until there is a vaccine. In the meantime, it is likely that all professional league games will end up being pay-per-view; vital for the survival of some clubs. This factor may change some fans to paying but staying at home, particularly long-distance fans.”