Football at many levels is about to return, which is obviously great news – but I fear there may be trouble ahead.
Leagues and clubs are going to face enormous pressure to get the season completed and the fitness and general welfare of players is going to be pushed to the limit.
This would be a good time to allow all teams to have the opportunity of using five substitutes during a game, but then some sides, particularly at the lower levels, may not even be able to name a squad of 16 for each game.
Many clubs will be playing twice a week. Bracknell Town still have 33 Isthmian League games to play, while Woodley United have 23 Uhlsport Hellenic League fixtures ahead of them and league rivals AFC Aldermaston have not yet even started their home fixtures this season.
There are also those players who play for one club on a Saturday and in midweek and another in a Sunday League. As time goes on, they could be forced into a decision of letting down their Sunday mates, leaving them short of players at the business end of the season.
In addition to the players, club officials, many of whom are volunteers, are going to find their workload increasing with more matches than usual. And, without sounding too dramatic, that could also start to affect their personal lives.
Clubs at all levels of the game are currently behind with their fixtures and it is not going to be easy to catch up, especially if snow or severe frost during the winter months forces more postponements.
If that happens, leagues could run out of time and there are already demands for an extension to the season, which would mean an overlap with the start of the cricket season in late April and May.
There are a few sides who share grounds with cricket clubs and wickets need to be prepared well in advance.
‘There are a number of leagues who are still staging cups and perhaps it would be better if they are also scrapped’
Every effort will be made to avoid a repeat of last season when leagues were declared void – and that also happened in other sports like rugby and hockey – but it will be a major achievement if all leagues are done and dusted this time around.
Whilst the Berks & Bucks FA have cancelled their competitions, there are a number of leagues who are still staging cups and perhaps it would be better if they are also scrapped, allowing teams to concentrate on league matches.
Despite the good news about vaccines being made available, the coronavirus won’t go away entirely and could rear its ugly head again following the gathering of families and friends over the Christmas and New Year period.
This, in turn, could lead to players having to self-isolate, forcing more games being postponed.
League and club secretaries have a difficult job at the best of times, but it could get even more demanding for the rest of the season.