FANS' ZONE 14/01/2021
FRIGHTENING NUMBER OF MATCHES POSTPONED BECAUSE OF COVID-19
Tuesday night’s fixture against Solihull Moors, called off for the second time for this match, became one of a frightening 69 National League matches to be postponed due to coronavirus.
The National League board is concerned about how the season will be completed, as this column discussed last week, and as the interim General Manager Mark Ives explained they want to ensure that the 66 clubs that started, finish the season.
With concern over the increasing number of postponements, both the Premier League and EFL are tightening the protocols over goal celebrations with no hugging or handshakes and subs having to wear face coverings while the EFL have decided to introduce twice weekly Covid testing starting this week, fully funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Before last weekend’s FA Cup matches the FA stipulated that teams had to play if they had 14 fit players still available and in the end both Aston Villa and Derby County had to field very under strength teams in order for the fixtures to take place.
The National League has recently introduced new Covid protocols whereby when there are one or more cases the whole team isolates; this explains the increasing postponements. But doesn’t explain how Dover, with six players isolating, were told to play their league game, salvaging a 1-1 draw with Boreham Wood. The result possibly doing the Gulls a favour.
The next step ought to be all teams having weekly coronavirus testing with United boss Gary Johnson thinking this is sensible. The big question will be who pays? At around £100 - £150 a test per person this will be a budget stretcher. Ives says the National League is monitoring the situation adding, “ The important thing for us is our clubs are able to continue playing in safety.”
Meanwhile in Steps 3 & 4 it’s looking likely that the Trident Leagues - Isthmian, Northern & Southern - have played their last matches of the season as the Southern League, subject to all the clubs being surveyed, have recommended that the season should ‘cease immediately and be declared null and void’. Whatever is decided, but not until February, it’s already been acknowledged the season won’t re-start, at the earliest, until after Saturday March 6. What a disaster in both football and financial terms for these clubs and their communities.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise Scottish football below Championship level has been suspended for three weeks, could this happen here?
National League news: The Independent Review Panel’s long awaited report on the £10m grant paid out over the last three months, unfairly according to many clubs - United received a total of £285,000 - has finally been released but Mark Ives says both the National League and the review panel have their points. With the money now distributed it seems unlikely anything will change especially as attention is now focused on the next £11m for Steps 1 & 2.
There were talks last week between the FA and the National League as both are pressing for this money to be grants rather than loans, which, for obvious reasons would not be popular. Ives says, “We are conscious clubs are concerned with the issue moving forward. We are working closely to address that issue and try and work out what conditions are associated to the second tranche of funding.”
Welcome to striker Rob Street as an Eagle swoops in to join the Gulls and good news that Plymouth Argyle loanee, Adam Randell, is to stay until the end of the season. We just need word on Bournemouth’s Sam Sherring as to whether his loan is to be extended.
United’s squad has been boosted with the returns of Louie Slough and Olaf Koszela from their loans at Dorchester.
Answers to Quiz of the Year Part 2: 11. Armani Little supported Portsmouth. 12. The club shop started selling face masks. 13. GJ’s last Latvia match was against San Marino. 14. Player of the Season runner-up Jamie Reid. 15. Fraser Kerr signed from Hartlepool. 16. Umerah signed from Ebbsfleet. 17. Bristol City loanee was Louis Britton. 18. JJ Evans went on loan to Buckland. 19. Crawley drew Wimbledon in FA Cup Round 2. 20. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans scored United’s first and last goals of 2020.
How did you do?
Before Christmas we asked about United’s run-out music and this drew a passionate response. So should the run-out music be changed or should there be a distinctive Torquay anthem introduced?
The recent death of Gerry & The Pacemakers Gerry Marsden reminds us of his ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which, although he was from an Everton household, became Liverpool’s anthem. There are, of course, other favourite anthems, for example West Ham’s ‘ I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ or Manchester City’s ‘Blue Moon’ and Everton’s ‘Z-Cars’ theme.
These, then, are readers’ suggestions for run-out music: a number want to keep ‘Children’ by Robert Miles, use ‘The Only Way is Up’ by Yazz, ‘Call to Glory’ by Greg Bowman, ‘Entrance of the Gladiators’ by Julius Fucik and the ‘Grandstand theme’ by Keith Mansfield.
Or should there be a Torquay anthem?
You can post your vote or ideas to: email@example.com or Twitter: @fanszone.tu
As always to the Yellow Army stay safe.