Gary Johnson: Trying to plan for tomorrow when that tomorrow may never come

The return of crowds to football has been stopped by the Government. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

The return of crowds to football has been stopped by the Government. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Football is not and never has been about just the Premier League. The vast majority of the pro game I’ve always known lives on a month-to-month or even week-to-week basis. Like everyone else really.

But at National League level recently, and in most of the EFL as well, we seem to be living day-by-day. We’ve been desperate for some guidance, but also for some good news.

We all know that there are no easy answers to the problems which the world has faced this year from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virus is no one’s fault, whether it started with a bat in a cave or not. It’s killed hundreds of thousands of people right across the world. It hasn’t spared one country over another.

And I’m not one of the people who think we’ve got to ‘beat’ it, and then it’ll all go away. The virus is going to be around for some time. We’ve got to adjust to it.

No one wants to see any more death or illness that can be helped, and we’re all prepared to do our bit. But life has still got to go on at some stage.

Whether it’s on a football training ground or an office or anywhere, people always accept something better if they can see why you’re asking them to do it.

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So it would be nice for the scientists, and the authorities in general, to explain the decisions that they make - give us an idea of how they’re getting to them. Then we can all understand them better and get on with it.

For example, are care homes the most dangerous places for the virus to spread? Is it pubs? Is it people’s own homes? Or is it football stadiums?

When the Government stopped the return of crowds to football this week, I’m not surprised that the first question most people asked was: “How is it still alright to go to pubs, but it’s not alright to go to football, socially distanced and out in the open air?”

Games have already gone ahead across the country in amateur and part-time leagues, and other ‘pilot’ games higher up with reduced crowds. Not just in football, in several other sports as well.

I haven’t heard of any new outbreaks of the virus as a result of them.

Our club has been working incredibly hard for months now to make sure that there is safe football in our stadium.

We’ve met all the criteria, both at Plainmoor and at our training ground. People have commended us for what we’ve done.

That’s a big credit to all the Torquay United staff because, believe me, there are mountains of paperwork and protocols to be got through.

We were all looking forward to restricted crowds, and then building up from there.

Now, the chairmen of some clubs, in the EFL and the National League, believe they can’t survive without crowds, full stop. Others believe they can carry on with live TV streaming for a while, but for six months?

If things are delayed or suspended, we might be able to cope with a few weeks, but if it went into months, I don’t see how you could organise a season like ours and get in all of the games.

The strength of any league comes from the top, and you would hope that they are doing all they can to keep their clubs going. That must involve speaking to absolutely everyone, at whatever level.

There are massive decisions to be taken for all businesses at the moment - that’s why you hope that their reasons for doing things are well thought out.

At the moment it does feel like, in football, we are trying to plan for tomorrow, when that tomorrow may never come. A different tomorrow maybe, but...

Stay safe everyone, and keep smiling!