I’ll be honest. It analytically feels inane discussing actual football today. These are unprecedented times, after all. I’m writing this the day after Liverpool’s defeat to Atletico Madrid, swamped by an unfamiliar numbness. Only a few weeks ago, my mind was constantly occupied by thoughts relating to where and when Liverpool would be confirmed as Premier League champions. Would it be at Goodison Park? Anfield? The Etihad? Would they break the point’s record?

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And now here we are, with Liverpool sitting just two more wins away from glory, and the question I can’t stop internally fretting over is whether the league will be ongoing long enough for that moment to finally arrive. Being 25 points clear at the top shouldn’t carry with it this sense of all-consuming jeopardy that it might still go wrong, but it does, because of something so freakish and totally beyond the realms of football itself.

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This should be the most enthralling, joyous time in the life of any Liverpool supporter. We’re witnessing one of, if not the greatest Liverpool team ever to exist. We should all be savoring every single moment of this procession towards the thing we’ve all wanted more than anything else for so long, rather than feeling trapped in an exceedingly pressurized race against time. Yet I find myself consumed by an increasingly overwhelming feeling of impending doom that events will transpire to stop it from happening at all.

Why does it have to be that the one year where absolutely everything falls perfectly into place and Liverpool are cruising towards the title, there’s a very real threat that it all gets taken away? Perhaps I’m exaggerating here. Perhaps not. Nothing is definite yet, and it may well be the case that the rest of the season gets completed behind closed doors, which, although hugely disappointing, would still enable Liverpool to be confirmed as champions.

As for the trophy lift and parade, they can be delayed until a later date. But at the rate things are moving at present, with all of Italy on lockdown and La Liga suspended, it’s difficult to ignore the distinct possibility of English football going the same way.

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There are loads of complications with that. Would Liverpool just be awarded the title, but with an asterisk next to it forever? Could there be no champion at all? How would the European and relegation places be determined? What about the enormous financial implications for clubs, broadcasters, sponsors, and those who’ve already bought tickets? Surely, at this juncture, the most logical next step would be to put it all on hold for several weeks until the situation calms down and to cancel the European Championship so that the domestic season can be completed at a later date.

There is a wider point in all this, though, in that the whole situation puts football – and, most significantly, the scale of the importance we attach to 22 men kicking a spherical object around a pitch – into perspective. It has nothing to do with Liverpool at all, even though within a paranoid mindset, we can convince ourselves of some kind of mythical curse.

When considered in the context of such a profound, fundamental societal threat, it all pales into insignificance. For those, like myself, whose lives revolve around football to such a significant degree, that’s a difficult reality to come to terms with – but it’s a luxury concern, in truth.

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Ultimately, sport is, in its purest essence, a leisure activity. It’s a very important one to many millions of people, and deeply woven into the fabric of society, but it isn’t a matter of life and death (despite the famous Bill Shankly saying). In may feel like that sometimes, but only when you’re exposed to something as serious as this is are you forced to remove yourself from that bubble, and acknowledge that it may all just have to take a back seat for a while. Protecting people’s safety – especially the most vulnerable – overrides everything. 

It makes you fundamentally question what matters in life. Friends, family, food, shelter, and, of course, our health. All the things which are so easy to take for granted. The rest is secondary. When you boil it down to that base level, football is just…well, football. There will come a time when we can sit back, relax and enjoy it all once more.

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