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Bolton Wanderers commentator Jack Dearden's lockdown column

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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In his first lockdown column for The Bolton News, well-known BBC Radio Manchester commentator Jack Dearden discusses whether football has got its prioroties all wrong?

I FIND it surprising at best, and arrogant at worst, that sport’s governing bodies are suggesting dates for a return to playing.

Is it a case of wealth over health? I hope not, but I can’t be the only one wondering.

It seems unreal, or entirely wrong to be discussing sport when clearly there are more important issues which have to take precedence.

What has happened has certainly made me reflect on lots of life’s challenges and what really matters. I haven’t got the same perceptive powers that sport’s rulers seem to possess but given the problems this awful virus has exposed my main concern is that whatever decisions and conclusions are reached it must be something that works for the population, and not for any financial interests.

It’s been suggested that playing games “ behind closed doors” could be considered. Well I certainly hope not.

I do accept that that some form of planning and potential preparation for a playing return perhaps needs to be discussed but please not one that doesn’t include allowing spectators to witness and watch the live action.

Yes I know the suggestion is that games will be televised, but I’ve yet to watch a film that’s ever been better that any book I’ve ever read.

I just find it inherently wrong that playing matches without fans and spectators is even on the agenda.

So it would be ok to allow collision, contact sports, to go ahead, but without anyone in attendance?

In this situation we all sadly find ourselves in you simply have to err on the side of safety, players, back room staff, and not least fans and players.

To disregard genuine fans and supporters without as much as a by your leave is completely wrong, but sadly what used to be the “ people’s game” now belongs to others who think they know better. Some would say sport is driven by greed.

I can’t see how the government could allow it, unless of course it’s something to do with that root of all evil- money. Totally get that the economy is suffering massively, but whichever way you want to carve it up surely finance shouldn’t come before lives.

I consider that finishing the existing season should be a priority, and I still hold that view, but not at the expense of playing behind closed doors.

If it isn’t possible to complete the current campaign then, rather than what’s being suggested, I’d rather sack off this season altogether.

Whatever happens I’m pretty sure change is on its way, with a likely recalibration of not only football, but all aspects of life as we know it.

Lots of people have grown unhappy and are uneasy with the way sport, and particularly football, is being run so if there is to be a change, now seems as good a time as any to implement it.

Let’s start by scrapping the idiotic transfer window. I know that might mean that a few Sky Sports having to retire their yellow attire, but let’s get back to using some common sense, and allow teams particularly outside football’s top flight the chance to sell off a player which wouldn’t solve all the problems, but would help smaller clubs.

And that’s not all. You may find some of these suggestions a bit radical, and I’m pretty sure some will accuse me of throwing the baby out with the bath water, but here goes.

Restructure the lower leagues. Can anyone tell me the appeal in Morecambe travelling to play Plymouth? I’ll wait.

It can’t be beyond the wit of man to introduce a regionally organised competition, saves on travel etc, and likely to attract more financial gain by playing local derbies, and let’s reduce admission prices to watch matches - who knows it might even encourage a few more to actually go to games. A financial football check is surely long overdue.

And there’s more.... which is maybe even more radical.

Consider this. Do away with the current play-off system. Relegate the Premier League’s bottom four clubs, promote the Championship’s top four, and while I’m at it if you win the FA Cup you can’t be relegated.

That might provoke certain teams to view the FA Cup differently. And please spare me the “we’re playing too many games”

Stay safe, keep sharing and caring. We’re all in it together.

Until the next time.


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