On Monday January 4th, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he was sending England into a new lockdown, following a steady rise in coronavirus cases. Many shops were forced to reclose yet again and GCSE’s and A-Levels across England were cancelled for the second year running however, elite football was allowed to continue behind closed doors.

Although fans of the sport were left feeling reassured they could still support their football teams on TV, a rise in positive tests amongst the teams across the football leagues has left the continuation of elite football questioned. The English Football Leagues (EFL) has just announced that in the past week, 112 individuals have tested positive. The Premier League also announced that after ramping up testing procedures, 40 people have tested positive.

Four Premier League fixtures have already been postponed this season, with Manchester City being the most affected,  with 17 cases across the club, with several first team players affected such as Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker.

West Brom manager, Sam Allardyce, has already spoken to media insisting, “When I hear this variant of the virus transmits 70 per cent quicker, we can only do the right thing, which would be to have a circuit breaker.”

In addition to the medical implications of the virus, the financial pressures facing football clubs is a key factor before issuing league-wide postponements. Back in August, it was widely reported that Arsenal Football Club had made 55 staff members redundant and asked players to take pay cuts due to reduced incomes resulting from the pandemic.

For many smaller football clubs, playing matches behind closed doors has been tough from a financial standpoint. Local club, Bromley FC who play one tier below the football league, have tried to remedy the lack of matchday revenues by issuing ‘matchday live passes’, which streams their National League games onto their player. The postponement of live matches for a second time will undoubtedly put football clubs under even more pressure.

With COVID-19 daily infection rates rising rapidly, especially within London, it is inevitable that elite football will be once again postponed and clubs will have to be innovative in ways of raising revenues in order to survive. One such example is the Merseyside club Marine FC selling, ‘virtual match tickets’. This will undoubtedly prove extremely popular when they play a team like Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur on the 10th January 2021. Football clubs are also concentrating efforts on selling club merchandise via their online shops.

It is only a matter of time before elite football will be postponed again as this pandemic shows little signs of abating, so in the meantime, football fans all over should continue to find a way to support the game that they love.