The grassroots level is where our stars are born, where we discover our love for the game.
It’s arguably the most important level of the game and without it, the sport of soccer in this country would be next to nothing.
In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak that has been dominating the headlines worldwide, the FFA originally decided to continue games at the community level, without crowds.
From a certain point of view, it made sense.
Local clubs thrive on matchdays and to play fixtures as per usual, just without any supporters.
Only players, coaches, officials, registered ground staff and media were going to be allowed attendance.
But this week, the FFA have overruled this decision, instead opting to postpone all fixtures below the A-League until the virus outbreak reaches a manageable level.
One which would allow fans to go to games without running the risk of contracting COVID-19.
It’s hard to argue that the FFA have made the incorrect decision.
As much as we want to watch our favourite clubs play whilst we sit at home, cheering them on, it’s hard for clubs to warrant fixtures being played without gameday income.
As fans, we can often take our purchases and financial commitments to clubs for granted. It’s easy to do so, especially if you’re a long serving member of the club.
At the start of the year, prior to the outbreak, many fans would’ve felt paid their membership fees, bought their attire and anything else without thinking twice.
Just the beginning of another season.
But now, with all those fees paid and no games to help bring more money in, clubs would struggle.
Clubs rely heavily on food, drinks and ticket purchases to keep them afloat during the season. It’s a reliable source of income that doesn’t need much attention, if any.
People will always buy tickets on the day, buy their own dinners and even a few drinks if they’re in the mood. It’s a given for most clubs and it is an easy way to make profit.
However, with no fans at games, things change drastically.
Players, coaches, ground staff and club media still have paychecks to be met. Referees are in the same boat.
Power bills don’t come cheap and with games being played, you can bet those bills would take their toll, especially night fixtures where lights are required to be on.
Furthermore, by playing these fixtures, you run the risk of people contracting the virus.
Yes, it’s not as risky as having hundreds or thousands of fans enter the stadiums/grounds.
But the chances of it happening, albeit slim, are still higher than we all wish it was.
Clubs will still make significant losses from this outbreak, make no mistake about that.
Some AFL clubs are reporting that they may be in for financial losses of more than $5 million, a staggering amount.
Clubs across the Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga and the Premier League will also make losses.
Community level clubs are in the same boat. But it’s certainly smarter and above all else, safer to have these games postponed until the time comes when we can all shake hands again.
When we can go outside without having to worry about what might happen.
When we can live our lives as per normal.
Many fans will be staying at home during these bizarre times and limiting how often they leave the house.
As much as they’d love to see their sides play whilst in the comfort and safety of their own homes, it simply isn’t the way.
Fans will simply need to find other ways to entertain themselves as their local clubs will have to join many more around the world, in a period of limbo.
Although the decision would have been one they did not make lightly, FFA CEO James Johnson and his team have certainly done the right thing in postponing.
By running these fixtures, it’s simply running the unnecessary risk of spreading the virus and that’s the last thing needed right now.
Johnson has been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire as CEO, but he has made a good start in trying circumstances and let’s hope he stays on this trend.
However, he and his team need to continue making these tough calls.
Next up, postponement of the A-League.
Once again, it’s merely common sense.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know and get involved in the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau
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