Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours or so, you’ll know by now that the EFL have suspended fixtures in the football league for 3 weeks. You can read the full statement from the EFL here.
For North End, that means that this weekend’s trip down to Kenilworth Road to play Luton Town this Saturday will have to be rearranged, as well as the home fixtures against Cardiff City and Derby County. Of course, the Derby County game which was due to be played a week on Saturday was supposed to be the club’s 5,000th league game.
Obviously, this won’t be the case now and as things stand, the landmark game is due to be the home game against fellow play-off contenders, Nottingham Forest.
As annoying as it may be to some that there’s not going to be any football, from the club’s point of view, this won’t be the worst news. Especially for Alex Neil.
He spoke in the press about how he didn’t think playing games behind closed doors was a good idea and that a suspension for however long would be the best outcome and here we are.
There are two other things Alex Neil will be mindful of. The chance to give his players some extra time off to rest and recuperate after what has been a hectic season to date.
This break will also give Ben Pearson a chance to get closer to a return from his hamstring injury. He has in fact been pictured out on the grass at Springfields so he may have been closer than we thought.
— Kerry Francis (@pnefctom17) March 13, 2020
Also, it will give Billy Bodin more chance to recover without missing as many games as he perhaps would have ended up missing.
Could there also be late appearances for the likes of Tom Bayliss and Louis Moult who were ruled out for the season with this postponement? Personally, I doubt it, but you never know. I would imagine they won’t be needlessly rushed back.
The other thing to consider with all this is that if we’re not in a position to continue the season in 3 weeks, what then?
There’s been talk of cancelling the season, everything being made null and void. According to the chief football writer at The Independent, Miguel Delaney, there are a small number of people at certain clubs in the Premier League who think this would be the best thing to do.
Premier League emergency meeting tomorrow.
Am told some figures at certain clubs disagree with the decision to continue, and feel the season should be voided.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 12, 2020
If we get to the weekend of April 3rd and things are no better than they are now, or worse, then there’s more than likely going to be another suspension. How long, realistically can this go on for?
There are (at the time of writing) 4 Premier League clubs all self-isolating at the moment. Arsenal after their manager, Mikel Arteta tested positive, are in a period of self-isolation. Similarly, Chelsea after Callum Hudson-Odoi also tested positive and Everton and Bournemouth as well.
Logistically, if this cycle continues or gets worse, it would turn into a nightmare to try and rearrange games amid all the games that are still to be played. Then there’s the matter of the Champions League and the Europa League and of course what was supposed to be the celebration of 60 years of the European Championships in Euro 2020.
It might end up being easier for everything to be scrapped and for it all to start again next season.
Obviously, this wouldn’t be my preference. People will point to the fact that we’re 6th in the table and had every chance of finishing the season in 6th and who knows what would have happened. Then there’s the matter of the relegated teams, too.
For me, if things were to be knocked on the head in the coming weeks, where does that leave the club?
First of all, if the season does continue but runs past June 30th, what happens to all the players whose contracts expire on July 1st?
Then, there’s something we have spoken about a few times through this season, the fact that this is the chance of a lifetime for Preston North End Football Club, the fans and the players we have here, too.
There are a number of players who, if we don’t go up because of the league being cancelled, will more than likely be the subject of a bid or two from a number of different potential suitors. For me, that’ll feel like a bit of a kick in the gonads.
But, such is life. If it comes to that, there won’t be much that we can do about it but as it stands, that’s not happening. The leagues will be resuming on April 3rd and anything after that will be in the hands of the organisations themselves, the authorities and the government.
What do you think to the events that have unfolded this morning? Do you think it was the right call to postpone all leagues until April 3rd? Do you think it’s not enough or a bit over the top? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.
In the meantime, as there’s no football going to be played anytime soon, why not check out some of the latest content pieces we’ve published?
A piece about some of our brightest youth prospects – The future’s bright for Preston North End.
A piece about the transfer window – Preston North End: Our own worst enemies in the transfer window.
Finally, give the latest episode of From the Finney Meets… a listen. We chatted with former North End shot-stopper, Andrew Lonergan about his time at the club.