OPINION: I'm delighted football's coming back... but will it be the same?

Liam Kent shares his thoughts on the return of football...

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 10:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 10:46 am
Grassroots football is back. Will it be the same? Photo: Getty Images

It’s worth starting this week’s column by stating that I am genuinely happy that non-league football is returning over the next couple of weeks.

The past year or so has been difficult with two seasons brought to a premature end thanks to the pandemic and months spent without any football to watch at all.

Outdoor sport is allowed to return from Monday and this will be a huge relief to thousands of players and coaches up and down the country who rely on playing football to help their mental and physical well-being.

However, uncertainty remains on when any games can be played. The FA is set to release guidance on the return of non-league and grassroots football in the next few days but their initial document states no spectators are allowed whilst changing rooms cannot be used which makes any fixtures unlikely for the next few weeks at least.

That hasn’t stopped teams from arranging friendlies and several tournaments have also been organised to help add something different to the summer.

However, when I look past the initial excitement of having football back, I can’t move shake the sense that it’s going to be a long and if I’m honest, boring, few months without any competitive games.

I’ve spoken before about how I would’ve done all I could to try and get the season started in July.

Not only would it have seen competitive football return quicker, it would have also helped with fixture congestion and reduced dreaded midweek games going forward.

A lot of these tournaments have been arranged for over April to June, depending on when the green light is given for fans to return. But what then? Essentially they’re glorified friendlies and once the tournaments are over, do we just go back to normal friendlies for a month or so until the leagues start?

I’m sure there will be people reading this, screaming that I’m a miserable sod and I should be happy to have football back in any form, and they’re probably right.

I just think competitive football is what we all live for. They’re the games players want to play in and what fans want to watch. No pre-season tournament can fully replicate that.

Feel free to throw this column back at me in May when I’m stood in the sunshine at a non-league ground revelling in some pre-season action…