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Cod Almighty | Diary

It compares with using Wembley to make lasagne

24 March 2020

Happy Quarantine day everyone. The day when Humberside's finest finally get to do what they've tried to do every time a club's support arrives at Blundell Park in more than a couple of taxis: lock us all in.

While the date 4 April for the resumption of football was always stupefyingly optimistic, the revised date of the end of April looks increasingly so given the current climate. It now seems certain that if the leagues do play to a finish - and that seems a big if - they will comfortably beat the record for the latest season played. Coincidentally that season was also won by a Merseyside club though in that instance it was Everton.

The Premier League in taking its decisions on when to resume, and if not how to award the title, will be faced with many difficult conundrums. Not least will be taking into account, if the title is awarded to Liverpool, how their vast army of season ticket holders will get from Devon for the open-top bus parade? The decisions lower down the leagues will be far more complex. Leeds apart, no one would seem to have a divine right to either a title or a play-off place. If the season is resumed how will form have been affected?

The cynic in Casual Diary believes that with TV revenues the key factor in any resumption, the most likely date is when the Euros were due to commence. The prospect of viewing out the end to the league season over a 21-day period will be heaven for the armchair fan and a great revenue spinner for the ad sellers at Sky and BT. With the likely option to take out a discounted subscription for the duration on this and next season some of the losses experienced will be recovered with new subscribers.

Games will obviously be scheduled to suit the TV masses rather than us poor saps trying to get back from Newport by train after a Sunday 5pm kick-off. The hype merchants will salivate on screen and radio about their second to none coverage and four games a day schedules. Lineker & Co will tell us what a fantastic climax it's going to be, the 'best to a season ever'! Meaning of course since 1992 when football began.

The fact promotion and relegation will be skewed will not matter a jot to these clowns. That bigger clubs with their bigger squads will have advantage over their smaller opponents will not concern them one iota. No matter: the financial dopers will see their reward in another season at the top table, or promotions they didn't warrant. The likes of Sunderland, Pompey and Ipswich may produce a late season surge to secure the top spots, while Accrington and Wimbledon, with their threadbare squads, plunge in the opposite direction, unable to manage the three games a week required to cram a two-month conclusion into the 21-day festival of excitement demanded by TV.

Could the situation rebound to Town's advantage? Our squad is reasonably large. We were on a decent run of form since the turn of the year. Teams with smaller squads like Cheltenham and Crawley may well struggle and see their challenge for a play-off place falter. On the other side the financial dopers at Salford and Forest Green could find themselves among the Wembley-bound finalists. That would not bode well for attendance at the division's showpiece Wembley occasion. Any one of Colchester, Northampton, Port Vale, Bradford and, yes, even us could deny them, and in all likelihood will.

I doubt anyone in the Football League hierarchy is sleeping sweat-soaked nights at the prospect of a Salford v FGR final. The Sky mouthpieces will wax lyrical about the impossible dream; the meteoric rise of two tiny provincial clubs being one division away from the championship nirvana. They'll cut endlessly to the 'class of 92' in their directors box suits as they live every minute, and tell the breathless interviewer how it ranks with the last Wembley appearances of their playing days. The TV men will lap it up, even as it is played out in a cavernous Wembley with but 8,000 fans, fewer than attend the FA Vase.