Gary Johnson: Why are we having to wait another three weeks?

Twenty-four hours can be a long time in football, says Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Phot

Twenty-four hours can be a long time in football, says Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

They say a week can be a long time in football, but it feels like you can cut that down to 24 hours.

Before last weekend we were getting ready to tell the Yellow Army about four new signings, and by Monday afternoon we'd happily announced that Danny Wright, Andrew Nelson, Gary Warren and Fraser Kerr had all agreed to join us.

Everyone was champing at the bit to start pre-season training this Saturday, August 1.

I was definitely excited and, after almost five months since last season was stopped because of Covid-19, I know our players were really geared up for it.

But just as we put the final touches to our plans for a massively important season for our club, the news came through late on Monday night that our season wouldn't start until October 3.

The rest of the game in England - the Premier League, the EFL and all grass-roots levels - are all starting three weeks earlier on September 12, which we expected to do.

I don't normally chat in this column about club business, but these are unprecedented times, as they say, and you might be interested to know about some of the problems we are having to cope with.

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The decision to start on October 3 has a big impact in many ways.

We immediately had to put our pre-season on hold for three weeks, reorganise the training routines that we'd put in place, for individuals and the team, and our pre-season games.

Thank goodness we had not taken our players out of the Government's 'furlough' scheme, as I hear one or two other clubs have done.

We have written agreements with all our new players, including their terms, but we have been waiting for official information from the authorities on the final form of the contracts for next season, and we are still waiting. It really should have been with us a lot earlier.

There are so many unanswered questions.

If, say, League One and League Two are starting back on September 12 with reduced crowds, why are we having to wait another three weeks?

I thought, along with many other people, that we had to go in conjunction with the EFL, because Stevenage had to start with us on the same date as them for their relegation from League Two to be confirmed.

Who is it that's making the decisions in our league?

It just feels like a big guessing game at the moment.

I know that's the same for lots of people in all walks of life, but when someone makes a decision that affects so many, you do feel like saying 'Please, tell us how you got to that decision. And why?'

Not in a nasty way, but it would be nice to know the process, so we can all say 'Well, I understand why you've done that.'

It is what it is, and we'll abide by what we've been told, of course we will. But we would like to ask those questions.

By the way, I am very happy with how our squad strengthening has gone.

It's going to be a big ask to get all the league games and cup matches in next season, so the pressure will be on from the first week.

Having as much versatility in the squad as possible, and people who are comfortable in different formations, has been in our thinking right the way through, and I believe we've got that.

Keep staying safe. Absence does make the heart grow fonder...