Marinakis diagnosis brings Coronavirus impacts close to home
11 Mar 2020 09:34 am, by YorkshireSquare
With Coronavirus taking hold in some parts of Europe more and more sporting events are becoming affected by restrictions. Italy is the most affected country with six Serie A games played behind closed doors over the weekend before the season was stopped until at least the 3rd April. The Italian football federation (FIGC) said after a meeting on Tuesday that the Serie A season may not finish because of the coronavirus outbreak. President Gabriele Gravina has proposed alternative options if the season cannot be finished including holding play-offs, not having a champion for 2019-20 or declaring the current standings final.
French and Spanish top-flight games being also played behind closed doors and European matches involving Manchester United, Rangers and Chelsea will be held behind closed doors in Austria and Germany in the coming days. But in the last couple of days the impact of the virus has had implications closer to home with Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis having contracted the virus. Marinakis met a number of the Arsenal players during their Europa League match two weeks ago and as a result several Gunners players are in self-isolation. This has led to the postponement of Arsenal Premier League match with Manchester City on Wednesday.
Could games be played in front on an empty Elland Road? T would be like being back in the Bates era!
Marinakis also met with the Nottingham Forest players on Friday ahead of their Championship game with Millwall. The London club have said that senior club representatives who came into contact with Mr Marinakis have begun a period of self-isolation. Forest are scheduled to play Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, the Football League maintain matches will continue to take place as scheduled while government guidance remains unchanged but it remains unclear how long this situation will remain. With Forest players potentially affected by the outbreak the likelihood of the Championship season becoming affected has seemingly increased in recent days.
It now seems a certainty that Championship games will be affected this season, so what is the answer? Should games be played behind closed doors? But what is the point in football without the fans? Should the league be paused and picked up again later in the year? Or should the league be stopped and league positions made final? None of these options is ideal and all will involve a certain amount of financial hardship for the clubs and potential legal ramifications for the League. It is though typical of Leeds United to be in pole position for promotion only to have the season cancelled, or to lift the trophy in an empty stadium.